Enlivening Tradition

Adaptive Reuse


“The roof over the Noh stage symbolizes the unity of the theater space...participation of both audience and performers is necessary in the creation of a Noh play, and thus, there must be a sense of a single Noh space.”

~ Kunio Komparu, The Noh Theater: Principles and Perspectives (1983)

Located in the town of Inami in the Toyama prefecture, the former Hokuriku Bank Inami Branch was the first reinforced-concrete, Neoclassical structure built and owned by the Hokuriku Bank in 1924. In response to Japan’s ageing and declining rural population and the need to reinvigorate Inami, the Neoclassical bank is reimagined as a cultural performing arts center, where locals and visitors alike can gather and celebrate the heritage and traditions of Inami.

Noh is Japan’s oldest and its most poetic form of theater. The drama bridges the gap not only between the spiritual and corporeal domains, but also between the audience and performer. In this fashion, the new cultural center puts the audience in the performer’s shoes, creating moments of intimacy, participation, and reflection. Furthermore, as Noh was traditionally performed outdoors, this concept seeks to blur the lines between outside and in, all while being enclosed and protected from the elements.

The concept derives certain anatomical principles of the traditional Noh stage and reinterprets them in a contemporary manner that both honors the traditions of the craft, while propelling it into the 21st century. The hashi-gakari, traditionally angled at 105 degrees, connects the mirror room to the main stage, functioning as a passageway between the spiritual and earthly worlds. In the new cultural center, the threshold between the Bank building and the main performance shed serves the same purpose, connecting the audience to the performance, the old to the new.

This project was conducted in collaboration with local stakeholders and Taketombo, an architectural preservation organization.