Kyoto College of Art, Takahara Campus

Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Wataru Watanabe

This was the first project that I designed as a freelance architect.
It was a school building for the departments of Japanese painting and Western painting of the Kyoto College of Art (now Kyoto University of Art & Design), where I taught at the time. This was a joint design with Yoshikazu Oishi, who also taught at the school. I wanted to create a campus that would tolerate the diverseness of the students’ outdoor activities, so I deliberately separated the building into four volumes and put the focus of the design on the exterior spaces, such as the courtyard, paths, and roof gardens, while reserving the interior for programmed spaces such as classrooms and laboratories. We started design work in 1982. Looking back now, I feel slightly embarrassed by how the design clearly shows how I had consciously focused my tastes on Modernism at a time when the storm of Postmodernism had been sweeping over the architecture world. I considered the Hunstanton School by Peter and Alison Smithson to be my bible at the time because I was fascinated by its sachelichkeit (matterof-fact) spaces. I was in such a despairing mood back then that I believed that buildings should just be built as steel structures with steel envelopes and those old-fashioned wire-glass windows like in factories. I felt that discussions of style were utterly trivial. I was fine if buildings just existed as sound constructions, and that was all I wanted them to be. This was probably the most matter-of-fact building that I ever did. It still is, even now.