Sarugaku / Akihisa Hirata

Architects: Akihisa Hirata
Location: Tokyo,
Program: Shopping
Design Year: 2006-2007
Construction Year: 2007
Site Area: 538 sqm
Constructed Area: 851.5 sqm


This is a set of commercial tenant building in Daikanyama, Tokyo.
From legal condition it was demanded to build several small volumes in narrow site, and we decided to make several volumes that seemed to be mountains.
Thereby valley-shaped space between mountains is formed, where people and displayed things will overflow. Each shop can enlarge itself on the mountain-shaped volumes.

Lengthwise windows extend over floors, and they seems all together straight from a certain direction.
It is also planned that windows penetrate volumes. Thereby each mountain-shaped volume is connected and people can experience mysterious time as if they walk in forest of illusion.
We aim at making vigorous buildings which acquires strength by overflowing with things and people.

Cite: "Sarugaku / Akihisa Hirata" 30 Oct 2008. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 Sep 2014. <>


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    nice, I love this project. It is a shame something like this couldnt be done in the states. ADA wouldnt allow something like this without handicap access to the upper floors. Though in concept would be a great idea for urban shopping in neighborhoods and districts.

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    The only problem I can see, is that the stores located upstairs probably will not receive as many customers in comparison to the basement. For every second floor store you want to go you’ll have a staircase. Second floors seems to be not communicated between them.
    Customers could get tired of climb so many stairs.

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    I would agree on the disadvantage of staircases. Is there an elevator maybe somewhere on site? I would like to know what kind of shops/ retail activities take place in this project. It looks more like a group of architectural/ design offices rather than shopping. Unless of course, it’s a Japanese way of shopping. I am sorry, I do not know. I very much like the models and the photo of the project finished and full of people.

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    and Nishizawa is Sanaa…together with Kazuyo Sejima…but I can certainly see influences from this office to this work…but maybe it is the other way around…let’s say it is something ‘in the air’…

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    most refreshing project in quite some time!
    love it! it has that old market feel to it with great respect to the location.

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    I don’t know if I’d consider the stairs to be a problem really, some might say that we say that because we’re (I’m assuming) a western country, and probably aren’t use to climbing stairs (certainly not in commercial environments) for whatever reason. I think japan is perhaps known for its minimalism and simplicity, and having stairs instead of stairs and an elevator, or an escalator would simply take away from the simplicity of the structures.

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    i meant to say “I think japan is perhaps known for its minimalism and simplicity, and having stairs and an elevator, or an escalator, would simply take away from the simplicity of the structures.

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    refreshing to see tangible ideas that engage the urban and programs that ultimately translates to architectural experience!

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    The stairs are not a huge problem because Daikanyama is filled with hills and if you dont want exercise dont go there. I am submitting a proposal for a “deadspace” there. A temporary structure that would be in contrast to the original purpose.

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    having said that there are a lot of people with baby cars there as well and they just dont go there or they wait downstairs as the wife goes shopping- how yuppy. Its a boutique area and has no feel like a shotengai (japanese market or shopping street). I like the look but I dont like how it pushes the gentrification of Daikanyama. That is a big danger with great looking design. The people in the models and sketches become just that prototype models not real people. It creates an environment for high expensive trendy design. The rents go up, old historic architecture comes tumbling down and high rises move in for living space for the people who used to stop by on the weekends but now want to live there. It is happening there especially in the last 10 years.

    Dont get me wrong the modernist in me loves it, the flow- of people, air, just not the flow of rich people’s money.

    Architects spend too much time in trendy cafes leafing through trendy beutiful magazines and in their offices talking abouit people and making sketches. I love the build design process the opposite of this process.

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    I have been to this project recently. In regards to staircase, it really isn’t a problem in Japan. Japanese often walk stairs unlike America.

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