Kushiro Children's Museum Kodomo Yugakukan
© Koji Sakai
Shelters in the Subarctic
Hokkaido—an island located at the northernmost tip of the long, north-south archipelago of Japan. Here, areas of human habitation are limited and swathes of untouched wilderness remain. Although most of the region is bitterly cold with deep snow during winter, the climate is pleasant from spring to fall with dry air and soft sunshine. People living in Hokkaido, even in urban areas, often feel an intimate connection to the seasonal changes and unadorned nature of the region.
Taking the view of architecture as a means of interaction between people and nature, the construction of shelters to control the harsh natural environment must take center stage in Hokkaido. At Atelier BNK, we debate how to place a shelter onto an almost untouched ground surface and how to make use of or protect against great seasonal variation. Even if a site is small and restricted, our vision always encompasses the vast land and nature surrounding it.
While it is a privilege to be able to engage in this kind of work, we are constantly aware of the responsibility that comes with creating projects that occupy a part of nature. We believe it is important to be humble in the face of the climate and natural characteristics of the Subarctic, and to pay respect to the history of our predecessors in Hokkaido. This has guided us to pursue shelters appropriate to the region, which will continue to be the main focus of our work.