Given Tokyo’s high land prices and laws that regulate construction on small sites, most clients wish to make the most of the space available to them. It is no exaggeration to say that architects make their own rules and solve the conundrums that arise with clients as if solving a puzzle.
However, we relish delving into these challenges, and we knew that we must not create yet another high-walled, heavy and hermetic structure in the midst of the city. It was important to us to think hard about how to relate the exterior and interior spaces—how to reflect the mood of the building’s interior on its exterior and therefore contribute to the enrichment of the city.
This site is in a large, green, quiet residential area. To minimize any feeling of oppressiveness from the surroundings, we divided the structure into three boxes along the site’s outer boundary. The concept of “ma” ["interval," "pause," or "gap"] is an important element of the Japanese understanding of space. With this in mind we allowed for an appropriate amount of “ma” in between the boxes, aiming to cultivate an unified sense of “ma” among all the apertures in each of the boxes, thereby reinforcing the building’s neutral character so that even if you are indoors you have the impression of being outdoors.
In turn, interior elements seem to spill out of these gaps and create an open, free-flowing setting in the urban landscape. As one moves from space to space, one sees the different kinds of scenes that appear from within these open boxes—this is a living space in which to feel the passing of the four seasons.