Kyodo No Mori or Forest of Kyodo as its more commonly known is a Japanese co-housing project which was designed at the turn of the millennia. This project has caught my interest as an excellent case study of how development can adapt to an ever changing city and the first cohousing project in Japan. The site is set within the backdrop of an ever-changing city, without any historic or business centre, “the only constant seems to change itself.” (Meltzer, 2005)
Figure 1: Site plan of Kyodo no Mori Co-housing (Meltzer, 2005)
Interestingly the project has been significantly impacted by the concept of metabolism which was conceived in Japan in the 1960-70s, as a means of retreating away from urban chaos and natural disasters, “envisioning the complete transformation of Japan as a system of political, social, and physical structures into resilient spatial and organizational patterns adaptable to change.” (Schalk, 2014)
Furthermore, metabolism designers see the city and buildings are organic forms which change and don’t have a fixed form. “rather than a fixed form and function, instead sees buildings and city as an assemblage of component parts that could be upgraded over time.” (Meltzer, 2005)
Figure 2: building structure (Christian, D. 2017). The Cohousing Association. [online]
Although the development is low-rise totalling three stories above ground, they have managed to fit 12 units on average 90sqm on a site that is just 0.08 hectares. The site is home to around 30 occupants. At the time Japan has a rather strange lease agreement known as ‘Tsukuba’ which is a leasehold agreement which lasts for 30 years and then goes to renegotiation more often than not resulting in building demolition. However, as all parties were highly motivated by environmental “sought a more enduring architecture.” (Meltzer, 2005)
Figure 3: Concrete Structure and nature intertwining (Christian, D. 2008). Cohousing in Japan, Pt.II.
The design is heavily influenced by metabolism sees urban development co-existing with the environment, designers set out with three intentions towards the environment those being “capturing and enhancing nature’s offerings, imitating nature in architecture, applying nature’s lessons in life.” (Meltzer, 2005)
Figure 4: Roof gardens and green space (Christian, D. 2008). Cohousing in Japan, Pt.II. [online]
Moreover, the best way to achieve this was through a collaborative design process, which consisted of 4 stages of negotiation. Pictured bellow.
- Meetings to discuss personal requirements between households and architects.
- Meetings about building technology between developer, architect and other professionals.
- Steering committee meetings between the developer and three random rotating households.
- Whole community meeting.
Figure 5: Infographic of collaborative design process ([Meltzer, G. 2005] original artist Tetsuro kai)
Similarly, to how many cohousing projects are run through consensus decision making, similar to Japanese corporate culture when a consensus cannot be made in a “predetermined timeframe, a secreted ballet was used to break a deadlock.” (Meltzer, 2005)
A significant part of this cohousing development that reverberates with me are its connections to nature and sustainable features. Which I would like to take forward when I come to designing the co-housing aspect of the housing project. Those being passive solar heating and cooling, which have been a common trend in co-housing projects in modern times as both Lilac and Lancaster made use of it, furthermore, they used “solar powered water pumps and greywater treatment on a rooftop terrace.” (Christian, 2017)
Figure 6: Natural water irrigation (Christian, D. 2017). The Cohousing Association. [online]