Kuri at Chushinji Temple by Katsuhiro Miyamoto
& Associates


Japanese architects Katsuhiro Miyamoto & Associates have completed the priest's quarters at a Buddhist temple in the mountains of Japan.

Called Kuri, the project involved building a curved concrete roof, under which the timber-framed interior was constructed.

The architects envisage that while the roof will last hundreds of years, the interior can be rebuilt to house different functions as the need arises.

The building houses the priest and his family, as well as providing space for community exhibitions, lectures and concerts.

Photographs are by Takumi Ota.

Here's some more text from Katsuhiro Miyamoto:


Chushinji is a Buddhist temple nestled in the Japan Alps Mountains.

It boasts a long history of over 550 years and the present head priest is the 31st successor.

Kuri are residential quarters where the head priest and his family lives, but as they are adjacent to the main hall and reception hall, some parts are used for the office work and religious events.

The head priest also expressed his desire to make use of them for such events as exhibitions, lectures and concerts where locals can gather.

The residential area and the common space are arranged under a large roof, like a large umbrella, that take the rhythm of the roofs of the main hall and reception hall into consideration. The roof with upswept edges has the traditional Zen temple design and is also outstanding in strength.  The 2nd floor of the interior is a private residential area while the office and living room on the 1st floor with a large porch and earthen floor intended as a common space.

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When we observe Chushinji's main hall and reception hall, we notice that although the roofs are unchanged, the other parts have gone through repeated repairs and expansions. That's why the roof over Kuri is designed so that it would last for 100 or 200 years. The concept is that the interior can be changed as they wish later. While envisioning the future of Chushinji Temple, the roof will be by the framework, and the interior structure to be the infill.

Click for a larger image.

The existence of the common space is recognizable due to the roof, and it fulfills the role of linking the temple with local residents. Moreover, while each interior space has an individual function, there is a definite sense of unity since they are arranged under a single roof.

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Flexibility is created by a large roof. The roof is made of thick concrete supported by three pillars. It comprises a nested structure as the wooden residential area and other areas are housed underneath. The site is in a region with a lot of snow, but the roof is strong enough to bear such loads without extra support, there is a lot of leeway for the interior design.

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Repairs or renovations are also being feasible in the future. Also, since concrete has a high heat capacity, it's cool during the day and warm at night in the residential area. Just as in traditional Japanese architecture, light coming in from the sides is reflected by the floor and ceiling to illuminate the interior.

Posted on Tuesday February 2nd 2010 at 12:40 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • A520


    The house is very beautiful!!!

  • tanya telford – T

    i love the form of this roof, it seems to me that the curve somehow evokes something very natural. Not sure how it would be out of this environment, but really like it, to me it almost looks like a white piece of paper that’s fluttered down from the sky,

  • maggie

    cleverly arranged structural elements!! .. love it !!

  • horrible haridas

    japan is another planet, and i’m just not so fond of earth anymore!

  • Marc

    The curves roof is really nice!
    The rest of the house is to plaine for my taste.

  • john

    the priest has a family? what a fraud. this life of luxury, much like the fat monk who traveled with me on the green car (first class) from sendai to tokyo, who was reading his paper and took off his shoes and looked at me with contempt as i asked him to move aside so i could get to my seat. a phony acolyte of the buddha.. what happened to the monks who make their own sandals from straw and follow the path of the buddha (walking even in snow)?

  • Looks like a Japanese house constructed under the shelter of a Felix Candela structure. Too eclectic for my taste.

  • One

    Wow,… How come that in Japan there are so much more terrible architecture to be found,… good work!

  • …love it…roof shape includes nature inside the house space…exterior becames interior…genial!!!!

  • gab xiao

    so beautiful and serene! surely a humble yet elegant take to the surroundings

  • Obscurity

    At first sight, I didn’t like it at all. But if you knew that traditional Japanese houses including temples have proven to be “fatally weak” against earthquakes, I realized this innovative idea of splitting the roof and the wooden house structures might be a best solution. The shape of the roof is not like anything I have ever seen, but given the incredible load of snow in the region, and lack of hands to remove snow from the roof, which locals have to do to save their houses from collapsing, again the roof must have been designed so that the weight of meter-thick layer of snow is well balaned among the pillars. My taste is the roof would be dark colored, whether by painting or by covering the surface with fake tiles. Excuse me for taking precious space with my amateurish thoughts….

  • LOW

    The curves of the roof seem impossible, that’s amazing

  • Gareth

    Would have been ALOT more poetic if the roof had been made from natural materials as well. Shame that the poeticness of the project is more to do with the “cleverness” of suspending a giant concrete (albeit elegant) block above a seemingly fradgile wooden form.

    Concrete is such an overused material.

  • Obscurity

    “a lot of snow” on the roof means…http://bit.ly/900yyD http://bit.ly/cnwqUH

  • Abhi

    very raw and non-temple like.beautiful as an architectural design.

  • Thoas

    even got a ronchamp about it.. beautiful brilliant re-interpretaion of the traditional temple

  • I think it is great – look like a sketch come to life….

  • “that curved concrete roof” is graceful, BUT a great horrible when earthquake too.

  • yoyo

    great roof, thanks for not ruining it with rain gutters

  • gerg

    why is the roof white? why isn’t it the color of the neighboring roofs?

  • LIA

    Unbelieved,, design..
    -Concrete with wood-

    Nice concept.. Unpredicted..