‘Library of Priest’ is a wooden structure that is an extension to a rural residence of two married rural Shinto priests in Nagano, Japan. The requirements were given by the clients for an administration office, small reception, storage space, and a library for their vast collection of almost 3000 books.
Japanese Architecture :
Japanese architecture ranges from old, ornamented buildings to the new minimalist builds. It has a rich heritage of architecture and landscape as well. The temples, the shrines, and old wooden houses that have made Japan a country with rich architectural value; also, we have known about the famous Japanese gardens and appreciated their features.
Hiroki Motu and Architects :
Among many famous architects, the country grows with form, functionality, and creativity. To contribute to such Architecture in Japan is Architect Hiroki Motu, the architect for the ‘Library of Priest’ becomes one of his famous designs. The name of the firm is Hiroku Motu and associates. His online presence does not do justice to the kind of work he has done; he is highly appreciated for mindful architecture and spaces he has designed in the past.
Conceptual Development :
The architects took into consideration how important it was to maintain the experience of solace, calmness, and match the one priests experience while they’re in a temple. The architecture was thus made with simple features like a gable roof and interaction between inside and outside through windows.
The interior was designed such that it was separated by sliding doors, while the depth of the room could be felt because of the design of the bookshelves. The architects have taken into account the culture of the priest as well as Shintoism.
Shinto being a Japanese belief that nobody is perfect, it is an optimistic faith that usually allows the people to keep the evil spirits away through prayers, purification, and offering to kami. It involves the veneration of many deities.
Speaking about Architecture :
If we look at the pictures closely, we realize that it is a minimalist structure, provided with an ample amount of light through windows and Arch-shaped opening. Diffused light is an important feature for the library; it provides the convenience of reading for the people. The large stacked bookshelves serve as separation in the free layout, which is also made of the dark timber. The structure is made with the simplest elements and creates a simple vibe with the texture, context, and form.
Landscape adjacent to the library :
The landscape was designed with the segregation of hard and soft-scape. At the same time, making the landscape directive towards the entrance of the library. The entrance through the arched structure creates suspense while entering in the library, but as we walk through, we experience grandeur. It also acts as a transition space. As needed by the clients, there was a garden adjacent to the library.
The Main Challenge :
The main challenge for Hiroki Motu Architects was to keep the older construction and the development of the library such that they complement each other. It created a restriction, for which the price was a negotiation in the elevation. It needed the elevation to alter and revamp the design.
The philosophy behind designing the stone garden in the landscape was to delineate that as disconnecting the sculptures and stones are, so is the presence of a priest in this world. They exist but their soul is disconnected from the worldly pleasures and wants. They are here to give love and live their lives with joy.
Inside-Outside Relationship :
Though the library is a closed space and filled with almost 3000 titles, the architects made the inside-outside relationship by giving a low cill level, to let the person experience garden while sitting in the library. The materials used are all the vernacular materials of Japan which are wood in the form of timber, stone in the landscape, glass for the transparency, and bamboo is used to create a variation and for building parapets wherever necessary.
Libraries have always been a space to sit and read in solitude, and the ‘Library of priests’ serves the purpose while also making a person experience architecture. It is always said and believed that Architecture is the first-hand experience that can only be felt, and all architects can do is make it a long-lasting one as well.