Danning Niu
Design Portfolio

The Future Machi of Craft 「未来の工芸の町

Taketombo X City of Nanto X RISD: Old Hokuriku Bank Building Adaptive Reuse Design Initiative
Inami, Nanto, Toyama Prefecture, Japan

Spring 2020, 16 Weeks

Implanted into the historic urban fabric of Inami, a district of Nanto City in Japan, the tall, light colored concrete cube of the Hokuriku Bank, a neo-classical building erected in 1924, stands out against the vernacular, low-rise, dark wooden linear structures lining Yokamachi Street at the foothill of the Buddhist Temple Zuisen-ji dating back to 1390.  The repeated destruction of the temple over the course of history, followed by reconstruction, necessitated the settlement of craftsmen on Yokamachi Street. To this day, the traditional, two-story buildings adjacent to the neo-classical structure, with their wide, wall-overhanging eaves, serve as homes and workspaces for artisans continuing Inami’s legendary art of woodcarving, an art and craft declared a Japanese Heritage in 2018. Further, preservationists initiated the listing of Yokamachi Street as a historic ensemble landmark.

The historic Hokuriku Bank Building, situated in this unique fabric of Yokamachi Street, is the focus of this design iniative. 


To extend the life of the Old Hokuriku Bank, this proposal introduces a Designer in Residency program into the existing building complex. The residency program is aimed at encouraging young designers to live in the Japanese countryside and to learn about traditional crafts, such as the renowned Inami woodcarving. The town of Inami has a rich history of woodcarving and is known for the virtuoso of its craftsmen. However, at present, the interest of the younger generation to inherit the tradition has waned significantly and the demand for traditional wood architectural component has also dwindled. The circumstances presents a need to preserve and reinvent the traditional craft and to rethink the values for the artisan town. 

未来の工芸の町:私は、旧北陸銀行の再生のために、Designer in Residency(住み込みデザイナー)プログラムを提案します。この住み込みプログラムは、若いデザイナーが日本の田舎に住み、有名な井波木彫りなどの伝統工芸を学ぶというものです。井波には木彫りの豊かな歴史があり、職人達の腕の良さは有名です。しかし、現在、伝統を受け継ごうという若い世代は激減しており、伝統的な木造建築部材の需要も減少しています。このような状況は、伝統工芸を保護し、新たに生まれ変わらせ、職人の町の価値を再考する必要性を示しています。

Yokamachi Street
Site Map
Art and Craft Establishments in Nanto Prefecture

The Old Hokuriku Bank occupies a central location on the historic Yokamachi Street, with walking distances to numerous woodcarving workshops, Inami Sculptural General Hall, and Inami Woodcarving Technical School, as well as easy access to Toyama Design Center and local manufacturing companies by car and public transportation. This rare mid-1920s Neo-classical style reinforced concrete structure has served as a public museum from 1987 to 2019. The adaptive-reuse project takes advantage of the strategic location of the site and turns it into a new nexus of craft and design. Meanwhile, paying homage to the building’s civic function in the past, the repurposing of the structure also aims to give back to the community by maintaining the public use of the bank building and enlivening local traditions. The residency program provides a basis for collaborations between young designers, local artisans, and local manufacturers and explore the possibility for traditional crafts to enter the whole sale market and thus new ways to stimulate the local economy.
旧北陸銀行は歴史的な八日町通りの中心部にあり、数多くの木工ワークショップ、井波彫刻総合ホール、井波木工専門学校までは徒歩圏 内で、富山デザインセンターや地元の製造会社へも車や公共交通機関で簡単にアクセスできます。珍しい1920年代半ばのネオクラシック スタイルのこの鉄筋コンクリート構造物は、1987年から2019年まで公共の博物館として機能してきました。適応型再利用プロジェクトで は、この建物の立地の良さを、工芸とデザインが出会う新しいハブとして活用します。 その一方で、この建物の公共性に敬意を表して、この再生プログラムにおいても、建物の公共利用を継続し、伝統工芸の活性化を通じて、地 元のコミュニティに還元することも目指しています。この住み込みプログラムは、若いデザイナーと地元の職人や製造業者間のコラボレーシ ョンの礎となり、伝統工芸を卸売りする可能性を探ったり、地域経済を刺激する新しい方法を模索したりすることなどを想定しています。

Introducing the Yokamachi Street Experience into the Interior

Machiya (Traditional Japanese Townhouse)
Strategy of InterventionFragmentation
Pitched Roofs

Architecturally, my intervention preserves the existing Hokuriku Bank and transforms the latter additions into a fragmented version of traditional machiya complex, which I call the “The Future Machi of Craft.” I was inspired by the spatial layout of machiya and the experience of walking down Yokamachi Street and seeing all kinds of activities happening around you. In my design, I allocated all the working areas to the first floor and the residential units to the second floor, and translated the prominent pedestrian experience into the formal design of the complex. The design features a fully accessible, central indoor walkway on the first floor, flanked by the different meeting rooms, workshops, digital labs on both sides. It consists of alternating landings and ramps and leads the visitor from the bank building up to a community kitchen at the end of the journey. 
建築面では、既存の北陸銀行の構造を維持しつつ、新規に建造する部分は、私が「未来の工芸の町」と呼ぶ伝統的な町家複合施設の一つ 一つの断片とします。私は、町家の空間配置や、八日町通りを歩いたり、周辺での様々なイベントを見て、刺激を受けました。私のデザインで は、1階は全て作業スペース、2階は住居ユニットとしており、町歩きの経験をこの複合施設の正式なデザインとして取り込んでいます。 1階 には、誰でも入場可能な中央通路があり、両側にさまざまな会議室、ワークショップ、デジタルラボが隣接しています。中央通路は交互にな った踊り場とスロープで構成されており、訪問者を銀行部分からコミュニティキッチンまで導きます。

Existing Drawings
New Plan | First Floor

1 Old Hokuriku Bank
    -  exhibition space
    -  gift shop
    -  community gathering space
2 Meeting Room
3 Multimedia Classroom
4 Workshop Area I
5 Workshop Area II
6 Digital Lab
7 Bathrooms & Elevator
8 Kitchen & Dining Room

New Plan | Second Floor

8 Old Hokuriku Bank Mezzanine
9 Medium Residential Unit (1)

10-15 Small Residential Unit (6)
16 Bathrooms

17 Living Room & Elevator
18 Indoor Garden 

New Plan | Roof

New Elevation A-A

New Section B-B

Fragmentation was the key strategy here. By staggering the individual 2-storey high buildings, I was able to achieve a porous spatial composition and a more interesting sequential experience. The staggering also created secondary corridors between the buildings, which can be populated by movable furniture and accommodate small gatherings. Not only did I wanted to maintain the porosity in the plan, but also that between the two floors. The design of the residential floor features a series of openings that evoke the atrium in the bank building and create a visual connection in section. The logic of fragmentation continues in the treatment of the roof structures. Their pitched form derived from the surrounding architecture and together they unify the architectural fragments beneath.
ここでは、断片化が重要な戦略でした。 2階建ての構造物をそれぞれずらすことで、空隙の多い空間構成と、面白い連続的体験を実現する ことができました。千鳥配置されたビルの間には廊下があり、可動式の家具を配置してあるので、小さな集まり等のスペースとして活用でき ます。私は空隙の多い空間だけではなく、2つのフロアの間の空隙率も高めたいと思いました。住居フロアには多くの開口部があり、銀行部 分のアトリウムを連想させ、視覚的なつながりを生み出しています。このような断片化の手法は屋根にも適用しており、一定の感覚で繰り返 す連続的デザインは周囲の建築とあいまって、階下の個々の要素との一体感を醸し出しています。

Existing Interior View of the Old Hokuriku Bank