SunnyHills cake shop by Kengo Kuma
encased within intricate timber lattice

| 12 comments
 

An intricate three-dimensional lattice of narrow timber slats forms a cloud-like mass around the exterior of this pineapple cake shop in Tokyo by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma (+ slideshow).

SunnyHills cake shop by Kengo Kuma encased within intricate timber lattice

Kengo Kuma and Associates was asked by cake brand SunnyHills to come up with a shop design that mirrors the careful preparation of the company's trademark pineapple cakes, so the architects developed a volume modelled on a well-crafted bamboo basket.

SunnyHills cake shop by Kengo Kuma encased within intricate timber lattice

Over 5000 metres of wooden strips were used to construct the precise 3D grid that wraps around around the outer walls and ceiling of the three-storey building. Some pieces were cut shorter than others, revealing multiple layers and reducing the overall linearity.

SunnyHills cake shop by Kengo Kuma encased within intricate timber lattice

"Our aim was to create a forest in the busy city centre," said Kengo Kuma. "We studied how lighting states would change in a day in the woods, and came up with a shape like a basket."

SunnyHills cake shop by Kengo Kuma encased within intricate timber lattice

The narrow slats are arranged at angles of 30 and 60 degrees, creating hundreds of diamond-shaped hollows, and were assembled by local Japanese craftsman.

SunnyHills cake shop by Kengo Kuma encased within intricate timber lattice

"I consider that wood joints without glues or nails are the essence of Japanese architecture," added Kuma. "What is characteristic about SunnyHills is the angle of the lattice; unlike the conventional 90 degrees, we tried 30 degrees and 60 degrees to combine the pieces.

SunnyHills cake shop by Kengo Kuma encased within intricate timber lattice

"By designing with these varied angles, we were able to achieve a shape and a frame that evokes a forest," he added.

SunnyHills cake shop by Kengo Kuma encased within intricate timber lattice

An opening at one corner leads visitor into the shop, which occupies the two lower floors of the building. An assortment of differently sized staircase treads form a route between the two floors and are flanked by sprouting foliage.

SunnyHills cake shop by Kengo Kuma encased within intricate timber lattice

Cork tiles provide flooring on the first floor, where the architects have also added a kitchen. The cork surface continues up to the level above, which houses a meeting room and staff office.

SunnyHills cake shop by Kengo Kuma encased within intricate timber lattice

Photography is by Daici Ano.

SunnyHills cake shop by Kengo Kuma encased within intricate timber lattice

Here's a project description from Kengo Kuma and Associates:


SunnyHills at Minami-Aoyama

This shop, specialised in selling pineapple cake (popular sweet in Taiwan), is in the shape of a bamboo basket. It is built on a joint system called "Jiigoku-Gumi", traditional method used in Japanese wooden architecture (often observed in Shoji: vertical and cross pieces in the same width are entwined in each other to form a muntin grid). Normally the two pieces intersect in two dimensions, but here they are combined in 30 degrees in 3 dimensions (or in cubic), which came into a structure like a cloud. With this idea, the section size of each wood piece was reduced to as thin as 60mm×60mm.

Site plan of SunnyHills cake shop by Kengo Kuma encased within intricate timber lattice
Site plan - click for larger image

As the building is located in middle of the residential area in Aoyama, we wanted to give some soft and subtle atmosphere to it, which is completely different from a concrete box. We expect that the street and the architecture could be in good chemistry.

Floor plans of SunnyHills cake shop by Kengo Kuma encased within intricate timber lattice
Floor plans - click for larger image

Design architecture: Kengo Kuma & Associates
Structure: Jun Sato Structural Engineering
Facilities: Kankyo Engineering
Construction: Satohide Corporation
Location: Minami Aoyama 3-10-20 Minato-ku Tokyo Japan
Site Area: 175.69 sqm
Building Area: 102.36 sqm
Total Floor Area: 293.00 sqm
No. of Floors: BF1, 1F, 2F, RF
Structure: reinforced concrete, partially timber
Primary use: Store (retail)
Client: SunnyHills Japan

Section of SunnyHills cake shop by Kengo Kuma encased within intricate timber lattice
Section - click for larger image
  • Colonel Pancake

    I want to like Kengo Kuma, but so much of his work is just cluttered overkill. I understand that may be the point of this project, which I think works from the exterior shots, but the unresolved interior (most notably seen in that awful picture with the bike) is just downright maddening.

    I really can’t understand where the impulse to design in such a manner comes from.

    • Green

      I’d think Kuma works against resolving spaces, he takes a material idea and pushes it until the building starts to break down… messy edges, awkward corners, ill-defined spaces are a big part of it. I think one of his impulses is to dissolve space, probably to deliberately provoke the kind of reaction you’re having. I really enjoy it, it reminds me of something fun and messy to explore like a park.

  • The Mummy
  • alahrbust

    The cleaning staff must be thrilled.

  • Suvin

    I am a big fan of his work. But over the past 1-2 years his work has changed. Perhaps he has been spread a little thinner with increasingly large commissions, but looking at this is like seeing a 3D rendering that has the potential to be beautiful, but needs more work to get the meticulous details ironed out. Oddly the rendered section above looks beautiful, detailed and resolved, but once constructed the eye just begs for the lines and elements to be finer, lighter and more considered– this trademark quality is curiously absent in his recent works. Eg, see http://www.dezeen.com/2014/01/15/kengo-kuma-stacks-wooden-layers-inside-office-and-cafe-pair/

    The edging between the 60 degree lattice and the regular grid of the ceiling is mute and abrupt. ‘…We wanted to give some soft and subtle atmosphere to it’ – I wish the timber-lattice eave over the frame-less glass window has a more graduated effect to illustrate this quality they were striving for.

    Right now they look like scissors and I can count all 8 of them standing from the end of the room. This happens across the entire building. I’m sure it is very difficult for him, but I hope one day Mr. Kuma will find the time to work as he did in the earlier days. I’m not sure what it is but something is missing now. I wish him the best.

  • Guest

    Looks super cool, I would love to visit it no matter all the criticism.

  • arch student

    I would love to visit it, and I’m sure i’m not the only one. i think that’s the impulse of the design, no?

    • Colonel Pancake

      You’re a student. You’re too young to have good taste. Wait ten years and a few sets of working drawings. By then, your interest in needless complexity will have faded.

      • Nicola Jade

        No need to be so rude, everyone has a different opinion on what they like. I’m sure other architects with your experience would enjoy this design too. Albeit to me this design is one the architects wanted to do because they can, with little relevance to it apart from the fact that it looks ‘good’ and is unnecessarily complex. But everyone is entitled to their own voice on the matter.

  • Jay

    Like a fur coat, ignorant and/or a blatant disregard for the true value of wood.

  • Richard Montena

    For me, a saving grace of this project is that it may be torn down in a few years for lack of maintenance; maybe planned obsolescence was in the program?

    It makes a great “building board” (VSB) and appears to be an interesting space but only for a little while.

  • Liaw Kheng Boon

    I like the overall expression but the maintenance might be a really big issue, years later.