TOGANE – Halls of residence are not an overly common part of Japanese university campuses, as most students come from the local area which means they are able to live close-by in the family home. However, with the latest census showing a worrying decline in Japan’s population, universities need to fill the empty places and must adapt in order to attract international students to take up study opportunities. Studio Sumo’s iHouse Dormitory attracts 140 home and international students studying at Josai International University by offering more than just a student flat.
The variety of accommodation units – from private rooms to four-bed dorms – is designed to suit every need (and budget), bringing a diverse student population to stay at the university, regardless of economic background. An International Centre on the ground floor provides the means for students to integrate and socialize outside of the lecture theatre – something that the university is very keen to encourage. The centre is accessed from a cut-away entrance that forms an additional volume with a communal balcony.
Interspersed with protruding windows, the southern façade is the most eye-catching external feature of the new residential complex. The elevation is made up of standardized ‘off-the-rack’ aluminium components (in three different lengths) which are set far enough away from the functional aspects of the accommodation to create a light-penetrated corridor with a half-external feel.
‘The goal of the louvers was to mask the dormitory programme and create a unified façade that reflects a singular identity, rather than appearing as a collection of units,’ explains the architect. Additionally, the reflective nature of the material causes as apparent change in colour depending on how the light hits: ‘the south-facing aluminium slats track the sun over the course of the day. The building turns from white to silver and then orange at sunset.’