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
Architecture – frontofficetokyo Will Galloway, Koen Klinkers
Photos – 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.
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.
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.
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.