Article source: Satoshi Kurosaki / APOLLO Architects & Associates
After inheriting the house that his father had built, the client originally considered tearing it down and rebuilding. However, the thirty-some-year-old building had an authentic beauty to it, and its reinforced concrete structure was sound, so he decided to work with the existing framework. The renovation focused on interiors and appliances, while the exterior was left nearly untouched aside from the approach, windows, and doors.
What does an authentic workplace look like? Designing an authentic office is not an easy task. Just like the terms “artist”, “poet” or “great lover”, these are titles that are given or need to be earned rather than being self-assigned.
Our attempt in creating an authentic workplace started off with our WorkVitamins methodology. This methodology was created by me, Martin van der Linden, principal of van der Architects, when I was an assistant researcher at Waseda Univeristy in 2001 here in Tokyo. I believes that architecture can be a catalyst for change in innovative environments, and this methodology – called “WorkVitamins” – is based on this idea.
We designed a new office space for a creative agency in Tokyo applying mixture of technology and traditional Japanese wood works for structure, furniture and fixtures. To keep the flexibility of the space, we suggested a portable partition system to insert on the floor and create proper size of the area.
The floor includes lab space intended for long-term project and war room intended for many projects to have short, intensive period of discussions. Each space is divided by glass partitions so that each active project can feel each other and is visible at a glance.
Ginza Place, a major commercial development in Tokyo’s famous Ginza shopping district, occupies arguably the most prominent recent development site in Japan. Ginza’s reputation for elegance and sophistication has made it a center of Japanese culture and commerce for more than a century. Ginza Place completes the neighborhood’s central intersection by introducing a bold and well calculated facade to the streetscape.
We renovated our apartment building in Shibuya, Tokyo for vacation rental services such as AirBnB.
We designed this space so that it will be a clean, quiet place for rest, opposite from the feeling of the city its located in and for tourists who will be enjoying all the excitement of Shibuya, one of the most cutting-edge downtown areas in Asia.
On a plot in Tokyo, a small garden has been thriving next to an old house for a long time. As the tiny existing building was replaced, our client really wanted to preserve the garden and allow it to sprawl all around the house. The small plot should also fit a parking, the maximum footprint of the house, and the necessary gap to the site perimeter. The client is a couple that will first use this house as a weekend house before eventually moving to Tokyo. They also have grown-up children living in Tokyo and abroad that will inhabit the house from time to time. Therefore, the program was fairly unspecified, and rather than making a house with many small rooms, we opted for a concept which gives a few large spaces in this small house.
The site is located in a residential district, which is easily accessible from a principal road. It is a so-called “flagpole-shaped site”, meaning that the rectangular site is located at some distance from the public road and linked to it by a long and narrow path. The site is surrounded by two-story and three- story buildings on the four sides. The client requested an indoor garage so that he can enjoy looking at his beloved car from living room and also an inclined roof with solar panels.
“coniwa” is a cooperative housing residence, located in the suburbs of western Tokyo.
It consists of eleven dwellings arranged around a lush courtyard, which is covered by a wooden boardwalk. In this project the clients were initially provided with a constructive and architectural framework, in which the plan was designed according to the individuals’ requests.
The site is there in a residential area in Tokyo, dense with low-rise buildings, located a little bit west to the center of the Kanto plain. The climate there is about to change from warm humid climate to rainforest climate in near future.
I’m not making a “house” this time. It should be a lasting “terrain” that induces “habitation”. My goal is to shape the terrain up to a freshly designed “residence” with no preestablished harmony sensed.
“dialogue” between the old and the new “substance” This is a house to be built in Tokyo, for a movie producer couple. This architecture is consisted by combining L-shaped blocks of reinforced concrete and sequential frames of box-shaped engineer-wood. We put bedrooms, film archive and galley in solid concrete part for security, and living room in engineer-wood part for openness. As material that consist an open space that is 6m in height, 5.5m in width, 14m in depth, we choose thin engineer-wood (38mmx287mm). Main theme for this architecture is to bring out a sense of mass and material, which were denied by modern architecture which pursued “white, flat wall” as a style. We intentionally left the wood grain of mold on the surface of concrete, and choose textured stones and irons. It goes without saying that a house is a relaxing place. A house like a white-cube, surrounded by flat, white walls everywhere, gives a person very abstract image. But that image could only be sensed when we use intellective part of our brain. The problem is that we’re not all-intellective-creature. For the people like this client, who do enough intellectual labor on a daily basis, white-cube would only bring sense of fatigue. The role of architecture, especially the ones for living, is to soothe the sensory side of people, not to stimulate the intellectual side. That’s my take. Sure, intellectual living would have got some meaning as a fashion at the time when modern architecture was born. However, now that it became a part of everyday life, its identity has been lost. We have to examine whether our approach is rational or not every time we build architecture.