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double-deck house
rokko hilltop bookstore

rokko hilltop bookstore

rokko hilltop bookstore 2008
'observatory with a bookstore'
(competition project)

structural design:S3 associates

reinforced concrete structure / 3rd story
building area:256m2
floor area:315m2
>view slideshow

The competition project to rebuilt an observatory. Situated on the hilltop of the Rokko mountains, the location was outstanding, however, the number of visitors was decreasing every year because of this far. Thus, for the newly rebuilt observatory, the competition brief asked us to propose extra value to attract visitors. It used to be free admission, but they were planning to earn 200 - 300 yen at the entrance for better operation.

Then we proposed an observatory with a bookstore like Barnes & Nobles. Barnes & Nobles is a US chain bookstore which sells books of course, and offers time and space regarding books. Everywhere in the store, there are always comfortable couches, where customers can take time in choosing their favorite one. Besides those customers who already know what they want in advance, it usually takes time to inquire into previews to search for 'the book.' Therefore this business strategy of offering plenty of time and space for it doesn't seem reasonable in a way, however, from the customers' side, it is a great opportunity to explore more books. Who knows exclusively happy experiences about books might or might not motivate potential customers to next purchase? Here, we surely see resilience on books.

When we met this landscape for the first time, we definitely wished to stop to spend some time there. Many conventional observatories are designed as mere platforms like one for panda viewing at a zoo. We have to push ourselves to move anyways, and once we have seen it, we misunderstand as if we know everything about pandas and never come back again. We didn't want the new observatory to become like this and started the project to think about why that happens.

Then what if coffee at Starbucks which started with a concept of 'the third house' would be replaced by a book? Moreover, what if the building is more relevant to its unique and prestigious surroundings? What if visitors go up for their favorite landscape? Accordingly what if the building is going up with 2-story volume as double helix? What if we slip into a couch to enjoy reading books as long as we want in dynamism of the environment? Thus we designed the building to offer an exclusive surrounding including books for each visitor.