Matsuyama + architect Hiroshi Sambuichi

Rokko Shidare Observatory, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan. Architect: Sambuichi Architects, 2010. Photographer: ©Sambuichi Architects

Although born and raised in Japan, being a zainichi Korean Japanese with a Korean surname has always made me question the relationship between my racial identity, nationality and cultural heritage. In a country where anyone with a non-Japanese name is assumed to be a foreigner, I have embraced Japanese culture and philosophy and feel Japanese, regardless of people’s perceptions. In Australia, where everyone has a unique background, I feel accepted as a person with Japanese heritage. Furthermore, deep connections with Australian architects with Japanese philosophy at their heart has made me better appreciate my cultural heritage.

Introducing my Matsuyama

I arrived in Australia with one suitcase in 2011, straight after finishing primary school in rural Japan. My Japanese language within the English-only environment was helped by haiku poetry. My hometown, Matsuyama, on Shikoku Island, is known as the City of Haiku, with heritage architecture associated with notable haiku poets. Since I was ten years old, haiku became a way of seeing the world – infusing my own sensory experience into the observation of everyday life in 17 syllables. The practice of weaving seasonal words into haiku – learning myriads of names for rain, clouds, air and light – led me to be mindful of changes in the landscape, ultimately informing how I approach architecture.

Whenever I return home to Matsuyama, I visit Dogo, an old part of the city, known for one of Japan’s three oldest hot springs, Dogo Onsen. The district encompasses Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, several bathhouses, a castle ruin and rampart gardens, as well as the Shiki Museum, where haiku poets gather together on special occasions. It is not necessarily the individual buildings, but sensory memories of historical architecture – the smoothness of timber grains, the softness of bath water and the resonance of stone steps – that engender a continuum of time of Dogo within me. Praying at Isaniwa Shrine in the New Year, appreciating cherry blossom season in Dogo Park (Yuzuki Castle ruin), and cleaning my family gravestones at Hogonji Temple deepened my relationship with the district over time, even since moving to Australia.

View from Matsuyama Castle, Matsuyama, Japan. Photographer: Saran Kim, 2020
Rokko Shidare Observatory, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan by Sambuichi Architects | Photographer: Sambuichi Architects

Introducing architect Hiroshi Sambuichi

Across the Seto Inland Sea from my hometown on Shikoku Island is the mainland city of Hiroshima, where Hiroshi Sambuichi practices. His projects focus on inviting people to understand the forces of nature. Architecture of the Inland Sea is his exhibition catalogue, a reflection of his deep understanding of the Seto Inland Sea, the landscape that, although close to my hometown, I knew only on a superficial level. The book has become a portal into rediscovering the landscape in place of visiting in person.

The catalogue introduces the Rokko Shidare Observatory (Kobe, Hyogo, 2010) – two hand-sketched sections (summer and winter) showing Mt Rokko, Kobe, the Seto Inland Sea and Shikoku Island illustrate the movement of water to Mt Rokko is enabled by the sun and winds. Focusing on the unique appearance of frost (soft rime) in winter, the catalogue investigates the condition for the ice to grow – when the air with almost 100% humidity, at below five-degrees temperature, collides with an object at approximately five metres per second. A veil of short wooden sticks are effective in retaining moisture for frost to grow on the observatory while letting air through.

The catalogue portrays Sambuichi’s architecture as a series of gentle gestures taking care of place and its microclimate referring to how the Seto Inland Sea and surrounding landscape, including winds, water and the sun, have always been moving and continue to move. His architecture is rational yet poetic, contemporary yet deeply rooted in the memories of the landscape. Sambuichi’s observation of landscape resonates with haiku – situating human experience in nature and admiring a moment in time, and helps me better read, understand and appreciate the sea that is so close to my home.

Saran Kim RAIA Grad. is a graduate of architecture at Architectus and a research assistant at the University of Melbourne.

Published online:
02 Feb 2024

Source:
Architect Victoria
Migration. Women. Architecture.
Edition 2
2023

More from Architect Victoria

Tehran + architect Kamran Diba

Tehran is a busy metropolis with densely packed housing and small galleries, parks, cafes and restaurants in the pockets of every main street. A stroll ...
Read more

The importance of Gender Impact Assessments in shaping future cities

The Royal Commission into Family Violence and resultant legislation has brought about changes to the way that built environment professionals are required to approach design. The ...
Read more

At home with photographer Dan Hocking

What does the concept of home mean to you? Home is a place where I’m at peace and have access to the things that are ...
Read more

Off Grid House: Archier

Located within a treasured landscape, this origami-like family home envelops several generations under one roof while mimicking tones of the mountain rocks and the creek ...
Read more

Siedmiorogow Drugi + architect Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak

Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak’s earlier housing project, Maisonette Apartments, built in 1960, was a modernist undertaking and the first in Poland to have apartments spanning across two levels.
Read more

Hargeisa + architect Rashid Ali

I have recently come across the work of Rashid Ali, a London-based architect who has ancestral roots in Hargeisa. Knowing the struggles Somalia has had ...
Read more

What does the future city look like? Next question

A conversation between Mike Hewson and Sunday Hyde
Read more

Wilam Ngarrang Retrofit: Kennedy Nolan

The Wilam Ngarrang Retrofit, a minimal intervention renewal of a 1970s walk-up apartment block in Fitzroy, demonstrates the benefits of adaptation over demolition and the housing sector’s latency in ...
Read more

At home with photographer Tom Ross

What does the concept of home mean to you? Jeepers. All the clichés, about family I guess, but also I want it to act as a constant ...
Read more

Saigon + architect A21studio

A21studio is a small architectural practice in Saigon. Their work challenges the typical urban residence which is often detached from the Vietnamese lifestyle and climate. ...
Read more

Bendigo Law Courts: Wardle

Highlighting how the justice system in Australia has shifted, and how we might continue to grow in how we approach diversity, Bendigo Law Courts by ...
Read more

Radical resource custodianship

Circularity is a system of material re-use and regeneration where we ask: What resources have I got at our disposal to bring to life what I ...
Read more

Yakimono: Russell & George

A layered sensory experience, Russell & George’s Yakimono draws on the experience of a typical late-night Izakaya to plate-up a restaurant that is reminiscent of Japanese concepts, without ...
Read more

Valparaiso + architect Cazu Zegers

Composed of forty-four hills and a flat area oriented to the bay, the busy and sometimes worn-down working port of Valparaiso, Chile, is a natural ...
Read more

Darebin Intercultural Centre: Sibling Architecture

By prioritising community as the driving force behind their design, Sibling Architecture’s Darebin Intercultural Centre stands as a welcoming new community facility, aspiring to nurture meaningful ...
Read more

Guangzhou + architect Atelier Deshaus

Guangzhou, my hometown and where my grandparents live, is the capital and largest city of Guangdong province in southern China. It is a bustling city with ...
Read more

Garden House: BKK Architects

Garden House is an enduring home which successfully creates a spatial model that is specific to the couple occupying it (and their two cats). It ...
Read more

Deco House: Mihaly Slocombe

Preserving the historic fabric of the original Art Deco building, Mihaly Slocombe have created a home filled with light. Providing room for a family to ...
Read more

Nightingale Anstey: Breathe

Homes are complex places, and we expect a lot from them. It’s easy to forget the range of functions that they are often required to ...
Read more

Creating an underwater garden

City skylines increasingly feature roofs and walls that are covered in foliage to trap stormwater and moderate internal climates. This approach to greening is now ...
Read more

This form is now closed.