Starting Point – Realising Different Values
The building is in front of Kugayama station, in the west part of central Tokyo. The site faces the gateway to an attractive shopping lane, opening its two sides to the public.
The area is rimmed with greenery and waterways, showing remembrances from the past, Analysis uncovered generations of water-green-people relationship under the modern cityscape.

Project Name: Kugayama South Gate Building
Studio Name: Sasaki Architecture
Project size:
953 m2
Site size: 429 m2
Completion date: 2017
Building levels: 3
Location: TOKYO, Japan
Photography: Takumi Ota

Kugayama South Gate Building by Sasaki Architecture - Sheet1
Front view ©Takumi Ota

On the other hand, the building’s plan had to provide maximum tenant area and compressed common space. Finding out how a modern commercial building could communicate with the site’s uniqueness was the starting point of the design.

Design Insight – Rebuilding Relationship with Water
The modern development of suburbs has covered the ground with concrete and transformed rivers into huge ditches. No one interacts with water like before. We miss the balance, the beauty of mother nature.

Kugayama South Gate Building by Sasaki Architecture - Sheet2
Side view ©Takumi Ota

We sought back into the natural water cycle and found one symbolic shape appearing everywhere – a tree shape. Branches, roots, veins, rivers… Tree shapes are universal solutions of nature to reach maximum area while minimizing resources and utilizing only a simple set of codes. We took that shape onto our building, not only as an icon, but as a functioning part of large-scale water cycle that will grow over time and blur the boundary between art and nature.

The Design – Growing into the Town
The building’s facade is characterized by a combination of aluminum cladding panels and tree shapes. The aluminum cladding has a special luster that blends into the mature town’s ever-changing ambiance while showing prospects to the coming ages.

Kugayama South Gate Building by Sasaki Architecture - Sheet3
Rear view ©Takumi Ota

Iconic tree shapes work as rainwater drain, support for plants, and as lighting. These shapes provide multiple routes for rainwater drainage to minimize roof slab height. Rainwater flows along the H beams into the basement reservoir, reused in the building like irrigation, then penetrates the ground until it reaches the river. By openly showing the rainwater in a symbolic shape of the natural water cycle, we strongly visualize how the building works as an integral part of that cycle. Town’s people will now be able to enjoy rainwater again.

The tree shapes will evolve over the years as the plants grow over them. In time the building will be a continuous part of the town’s greenery. These shapes will also present tenant activity in green frames. We expect to see the changes this experiment will bring to the townscape.


Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.

Write A Comment