2013 – Amano Design Office – Dear Ginza

The building site is on a backstreet in Ginza, which is one street behind the Ginza Central Street. The atmosphere is quite different from the gorgeous Central Street. Attracting as many people as possible into such a street was the architects task. The client desired the building to be a gorgeous existence. In addition, the designer desired to provide a “slight feeling of strangeness”.

Considering the views from the inside, simply obtaining openness with glass seems futile, since the outside scenery is hopeless. Therefore, a double skin structure is employed, which consists of glass curtain walls and graphically treated aluminum punched metal. The façade becomes a part of the interior decoration and obviates the need for window treatments such as blinds or curtains. By using a double skin, reduction of the air conditioning load and the glass cleaning burden was also intended.

The irregular façade design was determined by computing a design to avoid arbitrary forms and to approximate forms in nature. In the neighborhood of mostly modernist architecture with horizontal and vertical or geometric shapes, the building has a proper feeling of strangeness, attracts special attention. The abstract flower graphic is used to balance the façade.

By computing the design, individual aluminum punched panels are irregular with different angles and shapes, yet all fit into a standard size, resulting in excellent material yield. To avoid being clunky, an extremely lightweight structure is required. Therefore, much caution was taken in its details.

Name: Dear Ginza│Type: Commercial / Office│Architect: Amano Design Office│Completed: 2013


2012 – Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center – Kengo Kuma

In the corner premise of just 326㎡ across Kaminari-mon Gate, the building was required to accommodate plural programs such as tourist information center, conference room, multi-purpose hall and an exhibition space. The center extends Asakusa’s lively neighborhood vertically and piles up roofs that wrap different activities underneath, creating a “new section” which had not existed in conventional layered architecture. Equipments are stored in the diagonally shaped spaces born between the roof and the floor, and by this treatment we could secure large air volume despite its just average height for high-and medium-rise buildings. Furthermore, the roofs not only divide the structure into 8 one-storied houses but also determine the role of each floor.

First and second floor has an atrium and in-door stairs, creating a sequence from which you can feel the slope of the two roofs. On 6th floor, taking advantage of the slanted roof, we were able to set up a terraced floor with which the entire room can function as a theater. As angles of the roofs inclined toward Kaminari-mon and the heights from the ground vary from floor to floor, each floor relates differently to the outside, giving a unique character to each space.

Name: Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center│Type: Entertainment / Office│Architect: Kengo Kuma│Completed: 2012


2011 – House NA – Sou Fujimoto

House NA by Sou Fujimoto could be distinguished as a three story single-family home that is similar in form to a stacked pile of glass boxes of different sizes. The internal areas are set at different elevations. The steps between the plates at times will become seating and desks, at times as a device segmenting a territory, and at times each akin to leaves of the foliage filtering light down into the space.

Ladder stairs connect the small rooms within each of these different elevations and allow a free movement through the building. Most of the façade is made of glass and since also only few of the interior walls are solid, the view within the building, from one elevation to another, as well as to the outside is almost unobstructed. For privacy and separation in the nighttime, curtains become temporary partitions.

Sou Fujimoto explains, “In one way the house is like a single space, but each room is also a tiny space of its own. The clients said they wanted to live like nomads within the house – they didn’t have specific plans for each room. The house looks radical but for the clients it seemed quite natural.”

Name: House NA│Type: Housing│Architect: Sou Fujimoto│Completed: 2011


2011 – Tokyo Institute of Technology Library – Koichi Yasuda

Tokyo Tech Library was built at the basement under the Plaza and the Green Hill next to Kazuo Shinohara’s TIT Centennial Hall. The building contains 64.5 thousand volumes of open stack shelves. In order to create wide open spaces, it is set as an “underground library” which organizes most reading rooms and archives in the two basement floors. The learning an working space is floating in the air as a two storey “glass house”. Architect Koichi Yasuda created the image of an floating iceberg. The glass volume above ground with its transparent facade is supported by three V-shaped columns.

Name: Tokyo Institute of Technology Library│Type: Education│Architect: Koichi Yasuda│Completed: 2011


2011 – Shibaura House – Kazuyo Sejima

At first glance, Shibaura House appears as a tall, rectangular, white box. A closer look reveals three large terraces of different sizes and footprints, masked by stretch metal mesh. These volumes seem to be cut into the orderly outer structure. Diagonal beams keep the construction in place and form enormous, slightly puzzling K’s in a façade divided into a shifting pattern of rectangles. Glass panes screen the rest of the building, resulting in the reflecting semi-transparency of the exterior.

The rectangular outer contour disguises the fact that the building consists of a pile of concrete decks of various shapes. A section of the house demonstrates its spatial diversity, attested to by the varying ceiling heights. Each level seems to overlap the next, causing a sensation of flow between the floors. Curving staircases coyly emphasize this feeling.

The south-facing double-high first floor space is publically accessible from the street. It contains tables for working or reading and a coffee station. Plenty of lush green plants provide for a homely atmosphere. The second and third floors are lounge areas appropriable for various purposes such as meetings and cultural events and with access to two terraces. Rounded glass walls divide the spaces into smaller sections. Offices are on the fourth floor, while the corner ‘Bird Room’ on the fifth floor has a commanding view of the surrounding neighborhood. Its 90m2 have no partition walls in order to secure maximum functional flexibility.

Shibaura House is framed and structured by ten loadbearing posts around the façades, resulting in a square 14x14m footprint dividable into nine equal squares. Hence the building may be interpreted as a response to the famous nine-square grid exercise: This exercise was invented by architect John Hejduk in the 1950s and subsequently used at schools of architecture worldwide. The question is how to spatially divide a square, subdivided into nine smaller squares? Sejima offers seven elegant solutions: Curvaceous, yet simple.

Name: Shibaura House│Type: Office│Architect: Kazuyo Sejima│Completed: 2011


2011 – Iron Gallery – Kensuke Watanabe

Entirely sheathed in corrugated and rusted steel, the four-storey structure is wedged onto a narrow plot along a bustling city arterial road. With a footprint of 24.73 square meters and total area of 100 square meters, the construct is bordered on two sides by existing highrises and the chamfered front elevation accentuates the building’s narrow profile. Close discussion and collaboration between the architect, contractor and structural engineer allowed the project’s construction to be completed within 47 days.

Prefabrication off-site including the superstructure before arriving onsite and the units were welded directly to the steel piles with emphasis was placed on sealing voids to ensure watertightness. The maintenance free cor-ten steel will continue to age with time, supporting the antique contents contained inside the galleries. The facade’s surface was forged creating ribs for extra strength while shadow effects cast by the sun subtly shift the exterior’s appearance. Oriented toward the north, visitors see a natural green area through a large vertical window, extending the small spaces with borrowed views of the city.

Name: Iron Gallery│Type: Commercial│Architect: Kensuke Watanabe│Completed: 2011


2010 – Yutenji Apartments – architecture WORKSHOP

The project site is located in a densely built district of wooden houses. This is a large site relative to the townscape, so the site plan has been carefully arranged to match the grain of the surroundings. Three wings are arranged with a large, generous space at the center, and the places near the site boundary respond to the surrounding buildings and legal restrictions, arranged as if woven together with small volumes that respond to the surrounding alleys and openings.

The dwelling unit is a split type (separated units) that uses balconies to link the open space at the center with the closed spaces surrounding the site. These connected units comprise large, adjustable distances and spaces with differing qualities, so they are experienced as far bigger than the spaces actually are. Due to the intersecting sightlines between the units, signs of life may be mutually sensed.

Name: Yutenji Apartments│Type: Housing│Architect: architecture WORKSHOP│Completed: 2010


2009 – Yutoku Soba – Issho Architects

Located in central Tokyo, right around the corner from the major thoroughfare Meguro Street, is a ‘soba’ noodle shop, the owner’s residence situated above. The building has Machiya-style wooden louvers, invoking a traditional Japanese townhouse, but the depth of each louver is varied sequentially across the face. Regionally different patterns of light spill through the façade from the interior, allowing a gradual change of character at dawn, especially as viewed from the main street.

Name: Yutoku Soba│Type: Commercial│Architect: Issho Architects│Completed: 2009


2009 – Nezu Museum – Kengo Kuma

It is an attempt to design a museum as an urban design, rather than a single building. The avenue of Omotesando, where high-end brand shops and boutiques are jostling one another, begins with the wood of Meiji Jingu Shrine, and concludes in the south end with Nezu museum abundant in green. In the vast site exceeding 20,000㎡ was the private residence of Nezu family. The museum has an excellent collection of Japanese and oriental antiques, and with its verdurous Japanese garden and tea rooms, the museum has gained great popularity since its opening in 1914. On the occasion of the renewal, architects thought of designing a dumbbell-shaped town which embraces two forests at both ends. The old and decrepit storehouse and exhibition house were replaced by new buildings, while the ‘new’ building added in 1990 was half-renovated as house for storage and management.

Kengo Kuma and associates wanted the new museum to be linked naturally with its surroundings by the shade from the gentle slope of the roof, located between the busy commercial area and the wood. Layered tiled roof with lowered eaves inherit the original image of the museum and harmonize the new building and the garden. They intended to merge the edge of such linear element to the wood. The end of the rood is a steel plate treated in phosphoric acid to be thinned to its maximum, so that the tile would match the refined works of art in the museum, erasing theme park-like sense of unreality that the tiles tend to have. Phosphoric acid-treatment is also applied to the steel plate panel in the exterior wall, as the material can assimilate to the shade.

The building is not fenced in from the city. Rather, it is open to it through the bamboo thicket, an attempt for a museum as an urban design. People go along the bamboo under the deep eave, like a passage from the lively town to the forest of beauty. Just like ‘Roji’ approach for tea room, visitors need to make turns to change their mood and end the flow from Meiji Shrine and Omotesando (literally means a main approach to shrine and temples).

Inside the museum is softly wrapped in coral gray from Qingdao, a stone which has a similar expression to the bamboo, and integrated into the garden under the big shade of the roof. Interior is structured also with layered thin roofs of bamboo ‘neritsuke’ (thinly shaved bamboo is stuck to plywood) and people savor the beauty of all. In the garden the café was renewed as well, while preserving its stone wall and fire place from the old Nezu residence, another spot for the visitors to enjoy the nature of the garden. Thus, this museum is a device that reunites the city and the forest.

Name: Nezu Museum│Type: Museum│Architect: Kengo Kuma│Completed: 2009



2009 – Za-Koenji Public Theatre – Toyo Ito

Za-Koenji Public Theatre is a theatre for contemporary performing arts. The theatre produces, presents and supports a wide range of cultural activities for the community of Suginami, enabling people of all ages to see and take part in many art forms from drama and dance to music and storytelling. The theatre is located within a residential district, the new building has replaced the old Koenji Hall.

Because of the surrounding context and the acoustic requirements within the building, Toyo Ito designed a “closed” space, with both its walls and roof being constructed of steel plate reinforced concrete, providing sufficient stability, yet remaining extremely thin. The roof form was carved out of a cube by 5 elliptic cones and 2 cylinders, resulting in a dynamic shape that expresses movement and lightness. The central axes, angles and coordinate positions of the elliptic cones and cylinders, were defined according to the height restrictions of the site and the height requirements of the internal programs.

With the halls stacked on top of each other a floating structural system was adopted with every floor slab, and walls and ceilings insulated from the main structural frame. Because of the strict height restrictions only the small main theater Za-Koenji 1, the cafeteria, and the offices are located above ground level. The rest of the programs are placed at basement levels.

Za-Koenji 1, the Main Auditorium, is a flexible space, that allows for a range of different stage and seating configurations. The lobby is entered directly from the square in front of the building. Za-Koenji 2, Civic Hall, is located on basement level 2. It is a conventional theater space with fixed raked seating, suitable for drama performances, dance, concerts, conferences or lectures.

The Awa Odori Hall, also on basement level 2, was designed for practices of one of the Japanese Bon Festival Dances performed during the Awa Odori Festival. This hall made use of its maximum volume in order to also meet the requirements for musical concerts and performances.

Name: Za-Koenji Public Theatre│Type: Entertainment│Architect: Toyo Ito│Completed: 2009