JA+U: BARN HOUSE by co+labo Radovic @ Keio University. co+labo © Shinkenchiku-sha

The LIXIL* International University Architectural Competition – hosted by LIXIL JS Foundation – is a design competition for university research laboratories. In its third year, 2013’s competition – themed  “Retreat in Nature” – is under way with participants from 12 universities from 11 countries and will end in late March. 2012’s winner was co+labo Radovic of Keio University who designed a house for horses and people to cohabit which has been constructed in Memu Meadows in Taiki-cho, Hokkaido. This compact (66 m2), experimental dwelling aims to supply half of the necessary electricity for the house by fermentation of horses’ manure.

*LIXIL Corporation is Japan’s leading building materials and housing equipment manufacturing and sales company.

Following is a text by the architect which was also introduced in the February 2013 issue of a+u.

JA+U: BARN HOUSE by co+labo Radovic @ Keio University. co+labo © Shinkenchiku-sha

BARN HOUSE is our first realized work. Until the preliminary design stage, we had concentrated on expressing our vision of architecture in various writings. On starting the construction work, however, we were forced to make a great many changes, in our approach to the exterior wall skin, for example, and how to finish the eaves and the kind of flooring to use. Many of these changes were due to technical restrictions at the site or else the climatic restrictions of Hokkaido. To build in Hokkaido’s characteristic climatic and geographic conditions demanded solutions fitting that environment rather than the universal solutions normally learned.

JA+U: BARN HOUSE by co+labo Radovic @ Keio University. co+labo © Shinkenchiku-sha

Many of the town’s people lent a hand in the construction of BARN HOUSE. At every stage, from site administration to compost fermentation experiments and the work of producing charcoal, people visited the site to offer advice and help out. To complete this residence, we required not only architectural knowledge but know-how related to many fields, and we resolved this need by talking with Taiki residents and obtaining their assistance.

JA+U: BARN HOUSE by co+labo Radovic @ Keio University. co+labo © Shinkenchiku-sha

To our great fortune, BARN HOUSE was taken up in newspapers and magazines and on radio and TV, even before its completion. Its concept, “coexistence between horses and humans,” surprised many people, and this one little house engendered a great deal of communication. If we liken a building to a human being, a building comes to need a broad vocabulary of words in order to grow and stand on its own. This means the standard, universal language of structure and environmental equipment taught at school, plus the local dialect conforming to the local environment and technologies used there, and finally the language of architecture, itself. Happily, a great many people came into involvement in BARN HOUSE, and a wealth of communication took place. Through this process, BARN HOUSE acquired a many words. Architecture, as a field, has an expansiveness that promotes this kind of broad communication.

It is our hope that BARN HOUSE will continue to engender communication, learn more words, and grow into a building loved by many people.


There will be an open screening for the final round of jury on April 20th, 2013 (Sat) in Tokyo. Register to participate from the official website.

Find out about this year’s competition, which is currently underway, and participants from the official website and Facebook site.