Tranquilizing the void,

Xavier Arés+Juan Pablo López+Koh Noguchi

Embracing Tokyo’s ever-changing landscape, our project introduces a portable meditation chamber, echoing a traditional lantern. It offers solace to the city’s ‘salarymen,’ with focused light and soothing rain sounds, providing a sanctuary amidst the urban flux.

Japanese architect Yoshinobu Ashihara called Tokyo an “amoeba city” in 1986 due to its flux of construction and demolition. A city of constant regeneration, many of the residential buildings do not see past the three-decade mark. We see a potential for utilising these void spaces within the residential districts that become vacant. The continual cycle of houses being torn down means that there will always be a small piece of the plot ready to be reactivated during the in-limbo phase.

Locating the temporary meditation chamber within the residential district will allow Tokyo’s hard-working “salarymen” to reflect and find themselves on their way back from work or during their off days. Our design mimics that of a traditional Japanese lantern. The modest temporary timber structure is easily assembled with Japanese joinery and then dressed using waterproof fabric. The individual parts are all intended to be effortlessly transported, allowing them to be carried even through the narrow entrance of the “flag-pole” shaped plots.

The opening at the top focuses the direct light to the centre of the space, where one can meditate. The translucent side panels allow calmer diffused light to enter in, evoking that of Japanese shoji doors. When it rains, the water will drop down and create a ripple noise, allowing the user to reconnect with nature. Playing with the concept of Oku (奥), our simple yet thought-provoking proposal layers the separation with the outside and draws attention to the centre of the chamber. This aims to create a calm detachment from the stressful environment and rewire the user’s mind to within.


Authors: Xavier Arés+Juan Pablo López+Koh Noguchi.
Location: Tokyo, Japan.
University: ETSAB+AA.
Year: 2022
Competition: Tokyo Meditation Cabin Competition.
Prize: 2nd prize.