The Nebuta House
There are many ways of playing with a simple architectural volume. Vancouver based studio Molo Design created an uber minimalistic volume for the city of Aomori in Japan, with the occasion of the yearly Nebuta festival, during which huge mythical creatures made of wood, wire, paper, and lights are paraded through the streets.
However, Stephanie Forsythe and Todd MacAllen, who have previously worked in Aomori, decided to counterbalance the simplistic approach with decorative elements for the facades, inspired by the shadows of the beech trees in Northern Japan, creating ribbon-like elements with a calculated dynamic.
They were also inspired by 19th-century artist Ando Hiroshige’s woodblock prints and the Japanese convention of using screens to blur boundaries between indoors and out in the development of these vertical elements. The firm already has a series of collapsible, modular walls, furniture, and lighting elements are of kraft paper, so they simply played with fabric manipulation and started creating rules in order to twist the ribbon, in order to optimize light and view. The ribbons are positioned so that in some areas the screen is transparent, while in others it becomes completely opaque.
Interestingly, none of the design was created through digital means, which is highly surprising. The steel used for the ribbons was crafted in of the local shops, and the deep red color chosen for the dye was also inspired by local elements – the traditional red lacquered dishes.
The Nebuta house has become a city symbol since it was undamaged by the earthquake of March 11 and functioned as a temporary shelter for the people of the city. To support the city and its inhabitants recovery, Molo created a special limited edition of its hobo luminaria, an LED-lit shoulder tote, hand-painted with the Japanese sun disk.