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Tokyo, Japan


Shingo Masuda + Katsuhisa Otsubo Architects is a Tokyo-based architecture firm. The firm’s work has won numerous architectural prizes including “Runner-up” in the AR Emerging Architecture Awards from Architectural Review in 2011 and “Winner” of the AR Emerging Architecture Awards from Architectural Review in 2014. They were selected to be part of the team for the Japanese Pavilion of the Venice Biennale 2016 where they received special mention. Their works have been published across the world, in publications including Japan Architect, Global Architecture, and Architecture Review. Masuda graduated with a bachelor of arts in architecture from Musashino Art University, and has been a lecturer and critic in the department of architecture at the Musashino Art University since 2010 and was the Baird Visiting Critic at Cornell University in 2015. Otsubo graduated with a bachelor of arts in architecture from Tokyo University of Fine Art and Music.

CAB 2 Contribution

Project Overview

Structure of Place

SHINGO MASUDA + KATSUHISA OTSUBO Architects present two pieces in collaboration with the artist Kazuhiro Ishiyama: both large format images of the Akakura Shrine in Kumano, Japan and the office’s First Roof house completed in 2017. As a diptych these images capture Masuda + Otsubo’s interests in an old belief in Shintoism, iwakura, as a method to rethink the contemporary dwelling. The large rock outcrop in the Akakura Shrine surroundings exemplifies the intimate relationship between human, place, and gods in iwakura beliefs, primary to which natural landforms were regarded as proleptic shrines. First Roof house, like many projects of the office, reconfigures the exterior: either through elaborate mobile facades that open up in layers or through the simple insertion of a walkway that transforms two secluded buildings into linked pavilions. This connectivity is one of the ways that the office reimagines contemporary urban contexts; rather than tabula rasa or additive approaches, they weave new relationships in the existing context with transformative elements.

While at first glance these two large format prints appear as simple photographs, they conceal an excessive amount of information beyond what is visible with the eye. This hyper-dense information is stitched from more than 100 digital photographs that are taken sequentially over a period of 10 minutes, literally capturing time and duration in the frame.

The City is the Site