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Nitobe Memorial Hall

Sapporo, Japan

International Design Competition - First Place

2014 - present

Project Team:

Naomi Darling - Principal 

Spencer Hoyt 

Jordan Bensley 

Nicholas Jeffway

Japan Collaborators - TBD


Inazo Nitobe’s life ambition was to be a bridge over the Pacific.  His book, Bushido: The Soul of Japan, published in 1900, became the classic that introduced a western readership to the way of the samurai.  Our proposal is a building that aims to exemplify the spirit of Bushido to honor the legacy of Nitobe and his wife Mary Elkinton Nitobe, two people who were global citizens living over one hundred years ago at the turn of the last century.  Nitobe’s legacy as an agricultural economist, writer, politician and diplomat is impressive still today and the work that he did with his wife on this site to create a space for learning and education for the community is an important piece of history to preserve for current and future generations of Sapporo’s citizens.  


The competition materials called for a beautiful building with a physical and visual openness connecting the interior space to the park.   In thinking about beauty, our proposal strove for a timeless beauty that is simple and elegant.  The project was conceived as two main massings – one for the gallery and exhibition space, and the other for the remaining community program including the library, archives and group study rooms.  The formal geometry recalls both the American farmhouse and a traditional Japanese farmhouse. 


Additional considerations in our proposal were to create a model building in terms of sustainability.  The project optimizes the given conditions of the site through the use of controlled daylight and natural ventilation.  The South-west Corner provides the visual and physical connection to the park and warm afternoon light while the northeast corner is a cooler space with soft light, quiet, and peaceful.  All materials will be sourced locally and the project aims to achieve net zero energy.  

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