Shingo Masuda Katsuhisa Otsubo Architects Filip Dujardin liggend
Shingo Masuda + Katsuhisa Otsubo Architects

empty drop

Inspired by the density of Bruges' street plan, Shingo Masuda and Katsuhisa Ostubo have constructed a new, open 'place' for the city in St John's Hospital Park. Their geometric, brick-built sculpture subtracts ground from the historical orchard while also lending it structure. Here, the architects play with the concept of 'free' or undefined space and its absence in the city's geography, where every corner is well-defined.

Location
Open
24/7

The density of Bruges’ street plan is the inspiration behind Shingo Masuda and Katsuhisa Otsubo’s work in St John’s Hospital Park: a new, open ‘place’ for the city. They are exhibiting a geometric brick-built sculpture that subtracts from the historical orchard’s surface area while also lending it structure. In this work, the architects play with the concept of ‘free’ or undefined space and its absence in the city’s geography, where every corner is well-defined.

Starting from the question ‘Is it truly necessary?’, the Japanese firm experiment with the concept of space. As architects, should we keep making additions, or can we think differently about architecture and its uses?

Inspired by their homeland of Japan, Shingo Masuda + Katsuhisa Otsubo Architects merge East and West in the green envelope by linking it to the primitive religion of animism, in which natural elements such as rivers, trees or rocks define places for gatherings and rituals. One such location that still captures the imagination in contemporary Japan is the Akakura jinja, a 15-metre-high rock surrounded by a cedar forest. It stands in isolation, marking an open space for dance and encounters without the addition of a physical, built space.

Using a locally familiar material – brick – and the city’s colour palette, Shingo Masuda + Katsuhisa Otsubo Architects propose a new abode that transcends the seasons. Three circular sculptures, constructed from fired and stacked clay bricks, shoot outwards from the centre. Their silhouette alludes to a rock that has broken through the substrate, and of which only the outer shell still stands.

empty drop is constructed from 11,000 bricks that have been joined using the Flemish masonry bond. The work not only explores the boundaries of the material but also how it is used in the contemporary building sector. It forms a contrast with the functional city and – like an unchanging mastodon – marks a gathering place for meeting and deepening. empty drop: a celebration of emptiness within the busy pattern of Bruges.

With support from Architectuuratelier Dertien12.

Shingo Masuda Katsuhisa Otsubo
© Anna Nagai

The practice of Shingo Masuda + Katsuhisa Otsubo Architects (2007, Tokio, JP) focuses on subtle interventions that pinpoint the most space-defining elements of a place. An in-depth analysis of the existing context is central to their work. The architects challenge our preconceptions by adapting these observations and integrating them into their projects, thus bringing (new) meaning and structure to a site.

Discover more