The Hypospace of Japanese Architecture

“Hypospace“ is a twin volume, lay-flat book set exploring architecture in post-atomic Japan. Both volumes share an identical narrative—one told through the written word, the other through image—and are designed to be simultaneously independent and interdependent.

Project Details
Book Design
Book Cover Design
Custom Type
Art Direction & Design
Hypospace Display by Mike Heighway via Ultramassive TypeExchange by Frere-Jones TypeVisueIt by Colophon Foundry
Christopher Curtis Mead, Author & Photographer
Mike Heighway, Art Director & Designer
ORO Editions, Publisher

Cover Design

The design of the covers for “Hypospace” draw from two important works—the hypocenter map of Hiroshima by Sasaki Yuichirō documenting the destruction of the city (1954), and Wim Crouwel’s “Hiroshima” poster (1957) designed for an exhibition of drawings relating to the bombing.
The covers feature a bold, die-cut circle with a folded red flap that completes the image of Hinomaru (the “Ball of the sun”) when closed. The map of the area destroyed by the bomb, as documented by Sasaki, is debossed into the cover as a textural element. Concentric red circles radiate outwards from the hypocenter and wrap around the spine and onto the back.
A custom typeface, Hypospace Display, was designed for the cover and features a (mostly) monospaced set of highly-constructed letterforms in the 2:1 aspect ratio—the ratio of the tatami. The result is a graphically heavy typeface that relates to Japanese kana in its modular nature and fixed width across most of its characters.

Images Volume

The Images volume lays out nearly 800 images across hundreds unique spreads. The lay flat design accommodates the wide variety of photographs and images required to communicate the visual narrative. Panoramic photos could extend across the gutter and remain intact. Related images that are grouped together can also march across the spread. This comprehensive visual documentation of some of the most important works of modern Japanese architecture can be paired with the Text volume, or experienced independently.

Text Volume

The Text volume is laid out in a highly-organized grid system that carefully considers the experience of leafing through a book that is designed to be laid flat. The system creates a rhythm and continuity for the reader. The body text is left-justified to prevent an uneven rag and allows the blocks of text to themselves become a graphic element. Adjacent to the main content are the side notes for any citations set within the text. The intent was to create a layout that allowed the reader to easily reference the cited material without losing their position in space.

Custom Typeface

A custom typeface was designed for the cover and title pages. It is a visually dense, highly constructed typeface with tight, rhythmic counters. Mostly monospaced, it features numerous uppercase letters with lower-case construction. The original set of characters was then expanded into a complete character set in 2023 and released through my foundry Ultramassive Type, with a robust set of stylistic sets and full Latin-based language support.