Like most new apartments in Tokyo this one began as a series of closed rooms, slightly paranoid and inward looking, and ruthlessly functional. Rooms were connected by a perfunctory hallway, and the ceilings were a chaotic mess, shifting up and down in direct response to pipes, plumbing and structure.

100m2, Private flat
Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo
Completed 2020
Architecture – frontofficetokyo    Will Galloway, Koen Klinkers
Photos – Toshiyuki Yano

Nagatacho flat By frontoffice tokyo - Sheet6
©Toshiyuki Yano

Without changing the plan, we were asked to create something like a new skin for the modest flat that would erase these generic spaces and create a place the owners could recognize as uniquely their own.

Nagatacho flat By frontoffice tokyo - Sheet8
©Toshiyuki Yano

This idea of erasure is an important one, and suitable to our times, when architecture has lost its trust in spectacle and indulgence. In such a small space, and with no direct connection to the outside world, a kind of dissolved form offers depth where none exists and develops a human scale where humanity is apparently considered optional.

Nagatacho flat By frontoffice tokyo - Sheet11
©Toshiyuki Yano

Building on this starting point the design is simple – materials are reduced to a series of plywood sheets, layered and repeated both horizontally and vertically to create a smooth movement between spaces. On a practical level these added planes make sense of the abrupt changes in ceiling height left over from the original plan, turn a generic door-lined hallway into a procession, and form a backdrop that emphasizes the singular view to the large park outside.

Nagatacho flat By frontoffice tokyo - Sheet13
©Toshiyuki Yano

Hardware and mechanical systems are built into the wooden additions, while switches and other architectural features are used to form a simple design language to create a more contemplative atmosphere for the residents. The whole is clear, but it is made up of small parts to bring back a sense of belonging and a human scale.


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