Christine Hawley
Cook & Hawley

Andrew Porter
Abigail Ashton

Arata Isozaki & associates.

Local Architect:
Sunny Sekkei, Gifu.

Structural Design Group (SDG), Tokyo

Consultant Engineer:
Techniker, London

Gifu Prefecture

Gross Area:
11 000m sq

in 1994 we were approached through Arata Isozaki Associates with an invitation from the Gifu Prefecture to design 107 units of social housing for Gifu City. The proposals were to be part of a joint international venture involving four female architects (one from the UK, one from the US and two from Japan) to re-define the social housing model. A site SE of the city centre was chosen which, although occupied was to be decanted and the existing buildings demolished. The overall plan required an increase in density of 100% and a corporate strategy organisedby AIA determined a perimeter development with a substantial area of internal communal garden. Plans were subsequently developed that were concerned with family lifestyle and given the location and orientation of the building environmental comfort. Although many parallels can be found in designing both Japanese and European public housing there were singular cultural issues that determined some of these buildings characteristics. The building incorporates a range of eight different unit types from 55m2 - 85m2. With the exception of those apartments dedicated to the elderly and disabled all accommodation has been organised as duplex units. The apartments are dual aspect gaining benefits from views in both directions and offer an open plan lower level with double height volumes to enhance the sense of spaciousness. The internal form of the rooms encourages a high degree of natural ventilation. Canopies, screens and set-back balconies offer environmental protection on the more exposed parts of the building. The interlocking of the units allows an idiosyncratic development of the facade which characterises the building without the design ignoring the economics of repetition.