Kiso Town Hall

Kiso, Chubu Region, Japan, 2017


Kiso, a small town in Nagano’s mountains, is perhaps the most famous of the 69 stops along the over 500-km-long Nakasendo (中山道, “the path in the middle of the mountains”), one of the five routes which once connected Kyoto and Edo.

The strategic location on the Nakasendo contributed to Kiso’s reputation as one of Japan’s best places for wood shingles. National treasures such as Nara’s Kasuga Taisha or the Shoiken (笑意軒) and the Gepparou (月波楼) of the Katsura Imperial Villa have roofs made in Kiso.


The 20th century’s tremendous change in transportation turned the once necessary stop on the journey between Edo and Kyoto into a detour taken only by the occasional tourist. Trains still pass through Kiso, but only local ones. Travel between Tokyo and Kyoto has long shifted to other routes.


The town announced a competition for a new Town Hall and Emergency Crisis Centre. On normal days, residents will come here for an as smooth as possible enquiry and leave again. In times of disasters, the entire site would become a crisis centre and shelter for the region.
Located between the straight line of the current train tracks and the curved path of the original Nakasendo, the site is a place between the rapid passing-by of the present and the slow-paced interaction of the past.
FBA proposed a building which would open views to the future by communicating between the two. Following along the rail tracks on the east, it is a 190-metre-long strip bulging towards the open site on the west. In continuously varying degrees of openness towards the beautiful surroundings, Kiso’s new Town Hall is an outward journey, a breathing sign of a revival of Kiso’s legacy. The design embraces the local technological prowess: Based on simple rules creating an intricately changing architecture, Kiso builds its own Town Hall with the assets that have made Kiso famous over the centuries: timber and craftsmanship.


Kiso, Chubu Region, Japan, 2017


Mixed-use, Public




Florian Busch, Sachiko Miyazaki, Tomotaka Yamano, Jamie Eden, Tenesha Caton, Shogo Nagata, Max Duval, Mayo Shigemura


GFA: 2,500 m²

Garden: 3,590 m²


Kiso Town Hall
Kiso Town Hall
Kiso Town Hall
Kiso Town Hall
Kiso Town Hall
Kiso Town Hall


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