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


2009 – Carina Store – Kazuyo Sejima

Carina is a small store next to busy Ayoama-street, designed by Kazuyo Sejima. The shop is wrapped in two façades. The inner façade is made up of a steel structure and large glass windows. The outer façade is made out of white expanded metal, similar to the weaves that were used for the New Museum at the Bowery in New York. The outer façade covers up almost the complete building, except for the entrance door and one window on the second floor. This is a daring approach as it provides an introspective look at first glance. But, as in many recent architecture in Tokyo, the shop comes to life when you take a closer look and even more so when dusk falls over the city.

Name: Carina Store│Type: Commercial│Architect: Kazuyo Sejima│Completed: 2009


2009 – AO Aoyama Building – Nihon Sekkei

The AO building is a high-rise building of 90 meters with shops and offices. Splendidly curved sky scrapers in Aoyama, just between Omotesando and Shibuya. It is a commercial rental complex with restaurants, retail and service shops. The site sits astride different zoning areas with medium scale commercial buildings lining Aoyama-dori on the south while facing low rise residential units and small shops creating pedestrian scale streets on the north.

The financial viability was paramount for the project, resulting in an unique configuration enlarging the podium and upper floors while reducing the middle floors. the distinctive profile has created anew vista in harmony with the existing townscape. The wedge shaped tower affords great views over Tokyo, while the step garden on the podium is a relaxing oasis of green and water objects and togather creating an  urban setting.

Name: AO Aoyama Building│Type: Office / Commercial│Architect: Nihon Sekkei│Completed: 2009


2008 – Kanagawa Institute of Technology Workshop – Junya Ishigami

Reflecting the surrounding cherry blossom trees onto its transparent façade, the Kanagawa Institute of Technology (KAIT) workshop by Japanese Junya Ishigami offers a range of experiences within the one open-plan volume. Located at university campus in the suburbs of tokyo, the building was designed to offer multiple activities, enabling a sense of flexibility for its users. The brief from the client called for a place where students could work on diverse self-initiated projects of making things, while also being open for local public usage.

“To ensure that users would be have the freedom to alter the spaces to meet different needs within a reasonably short time period, it began to make more sense to me to pursue flexibility in the relations between adjoining places, and in the way various spaces are connected with each other,” says Junya Ishigami.

The resulting free-forming room both blurs its edges between the numerous internal programs, and also the connection between the inside and outside world. A total of 305 pillars are dotted throughout, with differences in size and shape they reference the irregular nature of tree trunks, evoking the sense of wandering through an unknown forest.

Name: Kanagawa Institute of Technology Workshop│Type: Education│Architect: Junya Ishigami│Completed: 2008


2008 – Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower – Tange Associates

Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower is located in Tokyo’s distinctive Nishi-Shinjuku high-rise district and contains 3 different schools: Tokyo Mode Gakuen (fashion), HAL Tokyo (IT and digital contents) and Shuto Iko (medical treatments and care). The building’s innovative shape and cutting edge façade embodies our unique “Cocoon” concept. Embraced within this incubating form, students are inspired to create, grow and transform.

Unlike a traditional, horizontally laid out school, Tange Associates have designed a high-rese vertical campus that can hold approximately 10,000 students. We believe that a school structure should be more than just classrooms. It should also incorporate multi-purpose corridors and a schoolyard-like space, or atrium, where communication can flourish naturally. With this in mind, we have designed 3-story high atriums which the architects call the “Student Lounge”.

The tower floor plan is simple. Three rectangular classroom areas rotate 120 degrees around the inner core. From the 1st floor to the 50th floor, these rectangular classroom areas are arranged in a curvilinear form. The inner core consists of an elevator, staircase and shaft. The Student Lounge is located between the classrooms and face three directions, east, southwest and northwest.

The building’s elliptic form allows generous views and increased ground space at the top and bottom respectively. Greenery planted at the lower levels and unobstructed views of the sky form the upper levels, brings, the nurturing forces of nature close at hand. In total, the Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower stands as a powerful learning tool, unparalleled in design, function and vision.

Name: Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower│Type: Education│Architect: Tange Associates│Completed: 2008


2007 – Tama Art University Library – Toyo Ito

In 2007 Toyo Ito designed the library for Tama art university located in the suburbs of Tokyo. Passing through the main entrance gate, the site lies behind a front garden with small and large trees, and stretches up a gentle slope. The existing cafeteria was the only place in the university shared by both students and staff members across all disciplines, so the first impetus for the architects design was to question how an institution as specialised as a library could provide an open commonality for all.

To let the flows and views  freely penetrate the building, Toyo Ito developed a structure of randomly placed arches which would create the sensation as if the sloping floor and the front garden’s scenery were continuing within the building. The characteristic arches are made out of steel plates covered with concrete. In plan these arches are arranged along curved lines which cross at several points. With these intersections, we were able to keep the arches extremely slender at the bottom and still support the heavy live loads of the floor above. The spans of the arches vary from 1.8 to 16 metres, but the width is kept uniformly at only 200 mm.

The intersections of the rows of arches help to articulate softly separated zones within this one space. Shelves and study desks of various shapes, glass partitions that function as bulletin boards, give these zones a sense of both individual character and visual as well as spatial continuity. The spatial diversity one experiences when walking through the arches different in span and height changes seamlessly from a cloister-like space filled with natural light, to the impression of a tunnel that cannot be penetrated visually.

Name: Tama Art University Library│Type: Education│Architect: Toyo Ito│Completed: 2007