Gaudi in Sanda: “I have less than 100 million yen in debt. I feel like throwing up every day because of the rising cost of materials.
From Minato Ward, Tokyo, 17 years after construction began, a concrete building that has yet to be completed is the talk of the town among architecture enthusiasts.
The building “Arimasutobi” is a 10-minute walk from Tamachi Station on the JR Yamanote Line, in a prime Minato-ku location. The exposed steel bars, irregularly shaped windows, and jagged decorations stand out in an upscale residential area.
Construction of this building began 17 years ago, but it is still under construction. Keisuke Oka, 57, who is the sole designer and constructor of the building, is called the “Gaudi of Mita” in reference to the designer of the Sagrada Familia, a church that has not been completed for over 140 years.
Mr. Oka initially expected the project to be completed in three years, but this was not to be. In 2009, a major hurdle was put in the way: the construction site was designated as a redevelopment area by a major real estate company. There are rumors on the street that the building will be demolished without completion. When we visited “Ant Trout Tobil,” where the sound of drills echoed, “Gaudi” appeared between the concrete kneading machine and the diagonally stretched columns.
The building is a reinforced concrete structure with one basement floor and four stories above ground. We purchased gravel, cement, and other materials, and came up with our own mix of concrete that will last for 200 years. Concrete construction has beautiful seams. The beauty of concrete construction is that the components come together as if they were carved out of a single stone.
Although the project cost about 100 million yen, including the cost of the land, the redevelopment has taken the project in an unexpected direction, he said.
After discussions with the real estate agent, we decided to dig down to the depth of the foundation and move the building a full 10 meters. They have to complete the project in about another year and a half.
Right now, the building is in the process of looking for a buyer. Actually, we have about 100 million yen in debt. …… I feel like throwing up every day because of the rising prices of materials. I also have to pay back my wife and mother. I feel ashamed that I can’t use my own money to pay for this project, even though I call it a self-build project. I will regain my composure and face this construction until the end.
Today, Gaudi continues to work alone on the concrete toward the goal of a project that has literally consumed his life.
From the December 2 and 9, 2022 issue of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Yuri Adachi, Keisuke Oka (exterior photo)