1969 – Japan Lutheran Theological Seminary – Togo Murano

The present compound designed by Murano actually replaced smaller, earlier wooden facilities of the seminary. One of the leading theological study centers in Japan and the training ground for many eminent religious leaders, the Lutheran Theological Seminary formerly occupied a site in another of Tokyo’s residential areas. Yet as the buildings grew old and the school outgrew the site, it became necessary to seek more spacious grounds. The new site was selected within a grove of beautiful mature trees near International Christian Uni-versity in Mitaka, a quiet Tokyo suburb.

At the request of the seminary the buildings — faculty residences, student dormitories, classrooms, library, and chapel — were all designed and completed in con-secutive stages. Despite this, Murano succeeded in creating an attractively unified composition that radiates a strong religious mood as well as the vitality of active student life. Because the Japan Theological Center occupies a neighboring site, the main entrance to the Lutheran campus was located on the west side to facilitate exchanges among the students of the two institutions.

To achieve a blend of religious symbolism and active student life in the building’s architectural expression, the designer found the lectures of the noted American priest and architect of religious buildings E. A. Sövik very helpful. Murano was also influenced by the sculp-tural forms and somewhat romantic architecture of Morse and Stiles Colleges at Yale University (1962) in New Haven, Connecticut, by Eero Saarinen.

Five residences and one guest house on the south-ern end of the site face the faculty apartments; the approaching path leads through a landscaped and grassy area with flower beds. The location, plan, and window placement of every building are designed to guarantee maximum privacy for each unit while taking into careful consideration functional efficiency. At the same time, the modulated masses of the building groups, complemented by the soft visual quality of their spray-stucco-covered walls, assures a highly successful response to the rich natural surroundings.

The exten-sive light-and-shadow effects created by the solid wall masses, together with the texture of their surfaces, impart a mood of serenity that characterizes the archi-tecture of the campus. This mood, coupled with a feeling of solemnity, reaches its epitome in the intri-cately lit interior of the small chapel.

Name: Japan Lutheran Theological Seminary│Type: Education│Architect: Togo Murano│Completed: 1969

Literature: Togo Murano: master architect of Japan by Botond Bognar; with an introd. by Fumihiko Maki, New York, 1996.



2013 – SunnyHills – Kengo Kuma

The architect used a traditional Japanese joint system in wood structure construction called “Jigoku Gumi” to create soft warm human space that feels like a forest or cloud. The adoption of a 3D structure system enabled the cross section of one member to be reduced to as thin as 60mm x 60mm.

The shop, specialized in selling pineapple cake (popular sweet in Taiwan), is in the shape of a bamboo basket. This same type of wood structure that are as thin as branches which were used to build this space are used to taste the pineapple cake made from carefully selected ingredients.

As the building is located in middle of the residential area in Aoyama, the architect wanted to give some soft and subtle atmosphere to it, which is completely different from a concrete box, expecting that the street and the architecturecould be in good chemistry.

Name: SunnyHills│Type: Commercial│Architect: Kengo Kuma│Completed: 2013


2013 – Omotesando Keyaki Building – Norihiko Dan

This eight-story commercial building — located on a corner lot at right angles to an alleyway and Omotesando Avenue — is actually surrounded by Tod’s L-shaped Omotesando Building by Toyo Ito. The façade of the former old building faced Omotesando exclusively, so the side façade, facing the alleyway, was exposed awkwardly like the backside of a building.

This project tries to change this relationship to the Tod’s building by creating a diagonal orientation with an irregularly shaped circle. This is to maximize the corner lot feature of the premises. The building’s structure is composed of multiple leaf-shaped columns made from steel reinforced concrete and arranged on the outer shell. The wood-like texture on these columns was developed by pouring concrete into a wooden mold.

The Keyaki Building was designed to relate to its context: as pedestrians walk by, it gradually changes its expression, to find a meaning through this movement. Furthermore, by bringing intervening elements into the context, such as the vertical scale made possible by its torchshaped form provided by the concrete columns, the project aimed to liven and enrich the ki (whole atmosphere)—not only of the building itself, but also of the Omotesando streetscape.

Name: Omotesando Keyaki Building│Type: Commercial│Architect: Norihiko Dan│Completed: 2013


2013 – House For Seven People – Mio Tsuneyama

The original house was built 37 years ago with a mixed structure; steel on the ground floor and timber on the first floor. Since its original construction in 1977, the site around the house has dramatically changed. The two-story house is now surrounded by 7-9 story buildings in an area known as the “Urban Village“, which lies between Yamate-Dori and Megro River – a three minute walk from Fudomae Metro Station in Tokyo.

The design seeks to take advantage of the number of people that will inhabit the house. When living alone in central Tokyo it is rare to find a dwelling large enough for a spacious living room, a long bathtub, a large kitchen or a green garden. But by designing a house for seven people, it is possible, through the use of shared spaces, to realise rich dwelling spaces in the center of the city.

Minimizing the bedroom area allows the living room to be as large as possible. The living room becomes defined by a public character since it can be used as one space for many people at once. It becomes the flexible and tolerant “Third Place“. The living room belongs to the house. It is both a café and a library ; a place that neighbours can meet, share information, and learn from one another. The more people who use the living room, the more stimulating and invigorating the environment becomes. It is envisaged that by involving people who work or study in the neighborhood, The House for Seven People will become a trigger to revive the local community, which has been disappearing.

Without modifying the windows of the existing structure, we have placed a corridor around the façade. This corridor has a character of veranda, like “Engawa” in the space composition of a traditional Japanese house. The Engawa allows daylight into the rooms, and naturally provokes the inhabitants to utilize that space as an extension of their own rooms. They can read next to the window, grow plants or dry their washing in this space; it blurs the borders of the private and public rooms. The more inhabitants spend time in Engawa, the more their life overlaps with others, enahancing the sense of sharing space, and becoming a catalyst for a close community.

Name: House For Seven People│Type: Housing│Architect: Mio Tsuneyama│Completed: 2013


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


2015 – Miu Miu Aoyama – Herzog & De Meuron

Contrary to expectations for a site that is home to so many luxury brands, Miyuki Street in Aoyama Tokyo is not particularly beautiful or elegant. The architecture is heterogeneous – a hodgepodge of freestanding buildings of different heights and shapes, with neither historical tradition nor common standards. Never meant to be a space of its own, the street is a purely technical and functional link between Omotesando and the Aoyama Reien cemetery farther down the road. Despite single trees here and there, the atmosphere is not inviting, like a boulevard or a plaza. Tokyo is pure, quintessential city, its territory exploited to the full with absolutely no leeway for the individuality that we take for granted in European cities.

The typological model that best suited these considerations and specifications was a box placed directly at the level of the street, its cover slightly open to mark the entrance and allow pedestrians to look inside. Only then do they realize that the building is a shop. Here, under the oversized canopy, the two-storey interior is visible at a single glance, as if the volume had been sliced open with a big knife, turning the inside out. The rounded, soft edges of the copper surfaces inside meet with the razor-sharp steel corners on the outside of the metal box, while the cave-like niches clad in brocade face the central space of the shop like loges in a theatre. The shop on two tall storeys not only presents enticing goods on tables and in display cases; it is also like a spacious and comfortable home with inviting sofas and armchairs.

The façade has neither logo nor pomp; it is a polished, mirror-smooth surface, as if one single giant brushstroke had swept smooth the ordinarily matte surface of the steel panelled façade. This surface attracts the gaze and curiosity of passing pedestrians. But instead of affording a view inside, as in a shop window, the gaze is inverted; instead of the anticipated see-through window, viewers encounter self-reflection.

While the street is not a place that encourages lingering and looking around, the building itself is a gesture that extends an invitation to come inside and stay a while.

Name: Miu Miu Aoyama│Type: Commercial│Architect: Herzog & De Meuron│Completed: 2015


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