“Building as if Dancing” Arimasutonbiru

Keisuke Oka is a registered architect who is constructing his own home in the Mita District of Tokyo. He has been gathering the materials, erecting the scaffolding, mixing the concrete and assembling the building himself since 23rd February 2005 – yet 10 years on it still isn’t completed. Despite this many people travel to pay pilgrimage to this unique building.

Born in 1965 Oka initially worked for a home manufacturer,  between the ages of 23 and 28 spending periods each year travelling around Japan by bicycle with a sketchbook documenting architecture. From 1988 he attended Takayama Architecture school – a month long summer school where students gathered in the mountains in Gifu to study self build techniques and ideas.

1 – Keisuke Oka Ari-masu-tonbi-ru Elevation drawing, 2003.

Although Oka’s drawing of the elevation of Ari-masu-tonbi-ru Building won prizes in 2003 once he started construction  2 years later there was no plan. He maintains the vision that “homes today are boring”  explaining that they are all drawn on computer and built to those exact drawings.

Using the term to “build as if dancing” he constructs the building in 70 centimetre strips as that is the width of his reach. Likening himself to more like an old man playing with a Bonsai tree that an architect this approach allows him to reflect to what is felt on site and arrange windows, doors and interiors more organically than drawing them.

“I think things like ‘it would be good to put a window over there, so you can see people coming down the slope,’ or ‘if there is a window here you could see Tokyo Tower.’ I want to discover things as I am building. By doing so, the building will become more and more alive.”

The composition of the concrete he uses is also different to that normally used in construction. On larger scale buildings concrete consists of 50-55% water allowing the finish to have a clean, polished look to the detriment of it’s integral strength. Oka uses a mix of around 40% water which raises the adhesiveness of the mix. This in turn makes the concrete harder to shape, giving it a rougher finish but he has assurances from specialists that this could raise the life span for this ‘sticky mix’ concrete towards 200 years

Progress is currently halted due to the area that the building is in, including the land upon which it occupies, is designated for redevelopment. Oka is determining whether he can’t move somewhere else along with his building.

Whilst Fujimori has the Jomon Company, Oka has taken the idea of community building on another step – “If you ask on twitter, people you have never met before will come to help you”


Client: Himself

Completed: Not Complete, Commenced 23rd February 2005. Progress halted due to land ownership issues.

Materials: Cast In-Situ Concrete.

Processes / Treatments: Building Scaffolding to cast concrete In-Situ. 70cm strips cast at a time, mixing in reinforcement wood chipping as it is poured. ‘Sticky Mix’ Concrete made with reduced water concrete to increase adhesiveness.





Image Credits:

1 & Header Image – http://ignition.co/328

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