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Who Said Houses Can't Move?

Words:

Edd Norval

Photos:

Ryuichi Taniura
December 12, 2018

When you think of a moving home, you'd be forgiven for limiting your idea to caravans. This is, however, anything but that kind of moving home. Japanese artist Atsuko Mochida turned a century old home into a moveable feast of architectural wonder.

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So, you want to move your house around? Not just shifting the sofa or adding some paint, but really move it around? Well, it's not as crazy as it sounds. Granted, some open plan architecture is already moveable with partitions on wheels or floor-to-ceiling sliders. But century-old Japanese homes? You'd think they're as static as they come.


The artist, along with a talented bunch of local carpenters and builders collaborate to continue Mochida's exploration into the modalities and implication of our living habitats. Located in Mito City, Mochida has tried to make us change the way we look at our homes.


To look at, the house seems like any standard one that's created in the traditional Japanese style. Stepping inside though, it becomes quickly apparent that this is an exciting concept that may very well become a part of future architecture and interior design thinking.

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As the movement occurs, it looks like a scene from Inception where the architecture begins to fold in on itself. The cognitive dissonance between the traditional house and use of technology is jarring, yet it's this feeling that is the origin of the curiosity. In a more contemporary space, it's easier to imagine, but utilising this movement seems somewhat in-keeping with the Japanese home, not at all at odds with the structure. After all, this is one country that we have previously discussed as epitomising the way old and new can successfully coalesce in society.


The crux of the design is a five-meter circular pad that rotates on an axis allowing the ecosystem of the house to completely switch and allow the reconfiguration to present an entirely new plane on which to interpret space in the house.


It's not just a way to see the room differently though, it also opens up the house to the outdoors, inviting the exterior environment to interact with the interior. The artist already had an interest in identity and the way modifications lend itself to the altering of them. His ideas have naturally spread into this project as he uses the mechanics to challenge the way we see a house, much like we would with the modifications to our own bodies.

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Interestingly, the mechanics of the system aren't electrical, rather crafted to be operated by hand. As such, interacting with it is a very conscious and active experience, rather than to simply flick a switch and watch it happen. By making this choice, Mochida wants the home to be something that is experienced and felt, rather than as a show-home that is part of a points-scoring competition with your neighbour.


Ingenious in its own right and especially when considering that the system is built by local workers to be used by hand, Mochida integrates elements of art, performance, design and innovation into a very traditional housing set-up.


Will this be the beginning of something or just another of the many interesting pieces that the artist has created? It's hard to say, but the reaction against modernity and its hands-free and highly electrical default may be food-for-thought for architectural pioneers.

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