When interior design meets architecture, the ultimate aim is always to achieve the ideal, but rare, marriage between form and function.
The design house of Shinsuke Fujii Architect’s bookshelf design, no doubt, seeks to respond to this challenge. It’s essentially a massive, floor-to-ceiling bookshelf concept which eliminates the need for the rolling ladder. The structure is built into an oblique wall which is also earthquake resistant. Their sophisticated execution also involves a combination of split levels, a high ceiling concept and climbable surfaces that maximize the utility of the space. Beyond that, aesthetically it’s an impressive sight.
There’s something futuristic and at the same time retro about that large oblique wall when viewed from the outside: a kind of 21st century The Jetsons inspiration. The shape was chosen to also achieve harmony with the surrounding environment: by leaning the upper half towards the top, it creates a roomier space at the bottom and serves the dual purpose of both shielding visitors from the rain and providing additional privacy with the residents of the neighboring property located opposite the wall. The team has even carved out a stylish, yet modest, carport space underneath.
Moving to the interior, the shelf's imposing size and deep-set shelves make it very inviting. It feels like a combined interactive library and wall climbing structure. How many of us have wished for a library that could truly accommodate our books in a way that does not feel cluttered? On the practical side, the bookshelf provides more structural stability than with traditional designs, and would not easily collapse were easily were an earthquake to occur. A small study and reading area for digesting all the books sits just in front of the shelf.
The intimate feeling of the interior continues up the stairs away from the bookshelf towards the living area—the kitchen is tucked away just underneath in a lower level, with the ceiling extending out to serve as a sitting table. A small storage unit can be found underneath (perhaps for an extra book or two for moments when the resident of the home may not be up for a climb?). Across from the sitting area are three large windows which can be used for enjoying the cityscape. In the end, the architects have created a spacious, yet cozy interior, combining all the rooms into one cohesive space, but avoiding the coldness we typically associate with loft apartments.
Although we applaud the efforts of Shinsuke Fujii Architects, I’m sure there are some traditionalists among us who hope this bookshelf does not symbolize the end to the iconic rolling ladder book library, which has been making a revival in recent years. Of course, in a perfect world, there is room for both to shine. Ultimately, the objective and creative pull of the architecture of our times is the constant reimagining of space, and objects within space. In that sense, this mid-century charming structure with a modern twist is a success.