A timber shell by ihrmk keeps interior space adaptable

TOYOTA – A sports clinic on the edge of a national highway isn’t something that you see every day but that’s exactly where recreational healthcare company Grow has set up-shop. Japanese studio ihrmk – founded as recently as 2015 – carefully followed the client’s specific requests to realize the project: firstly, it had to live up to the company’s sustainable ethos, particularly with regards to the materiality; secondly, the space should be multifunctional, able to accommodate events or groups classes, as well as private treatments for sports injuries and relaxation; and, finally, the project should be low-cost, based on a modest budget of approximately JPY 10 million (EUR 82,000). A simple timber construction satisfies all three factors.

Hidden inside a plain, house-shaped box, initial impressions of the interior are less than exhilarating. At first glance, you’d be forgiven for wondering whether or not this is still a house awaiting its second fix. The upper floor – designed as an open-plan space for recreational use – could be mistaken for an empty apartment on moving out day, like a scene at the end of a movie before the actors reluctantly close the door for the final time.

Of course, the real beauty of the design is apparent in its adaptability: the construction is merely a base shell. The clinic is meticulously considered and beautifully finished, with standardized timber components used for both the trusses and the exposed stud walling. In fact, the depth of the structure is enough so that the walls can act as shelving.

Railings are incorporated between the beams for hanging curtains that will section off parts of the space for private sports therapy sessions. Carefully positioned lighting on the upper level creates a warm and welcoming glow and, with a little bit of imagination, it is clear that the clinic will really come to life once the client moves in. Aptly named Plain Wood Base by the architect, the project proves that precision in detailing can say more than the ‘wow factor’ of a first impression.

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