- Client: Toshin Development Co.,Ltd (Takahiro Minamikawa)
- Design Development: Nihon Sekkei, Inc., Takao Yuki, Masayuki Hamachi, Yoshifumi Karasawa
- Art Curation: Sakie Takasu
- City: Setagaya City
- Country: Japan
Text description provided by the architects. Guided by a design concept of “Library & Art,” this renovation of a commercial building with a fifty-year history provides a place for community members to rest and relax. Our design transforms the spacious atrium into an intimate enclave that resembles a park in some places and a private library in others, offering opportunities for visitors to encounter books and art. Three primary elements compose the space: an assemblage of lights, shelves for encountering stories, and parklike greenery. Comprised of 669 bulbs and 1338 cords, the assemblage of lights is the most distinctive feature of the project. By varying the height of the suspended bulbs, we constructed four ceiling vaults between the columns. Bulbs are suspended like necklace pendants from two thin cords hung at convergent 40-degree angles.
The white lines overlap to form a nimbus overhead that is illuminated by the suspended bulbs. We performed weight calculations and made mockups to determine the weight necessary to prevent the longest cords, measuring 5 meters, from slackening. The bulbs are made of carved acrylic rather than glass, ensuring safety if they are ever knocked. Of the two cords used to hang each bulb, stainless steel wire was inserted in the one without electrical wiring as an additional safety measure to prevent bulbs from falling. To prevent the carved acrylic cavities from shining too brightly from the light reflected inside of them, we experimented with different forms to avoid additional distorted reflected light.
Our second strategy for creating an intimate atmosphere was to connect visitors with new books by arranging them so their covers are visible. The book director also selected meaningful quotes to display under each book. One shelf is devoted to art, with books and tools that were important to artists giving visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process. Two of the columns in the atrium are decorated with artists’ murals evocative of the experience of reading. Additional bookshelves in the second-floor café hold 100 books about bread and coffee.
The third element, parklike greenery, is achieved through planters that reference the district’s history as a resort area for Tokyoites. The selection of native Japanese plants was inspired by famous wooded resorts such as Karuizawa and Todoroki Ravine, where city dwellers went to escape the summer heat. Some planters include space for seasonal plantings, bringing the four seasons inside. Commercial facilities are increasingly seeking out designs that reflect the UN Sustainable Development Goals. With that in mind, we made extensive use of sustainable materials such as scrap wood for the interior finishes and furnishing. Since its opening, the space has drawn many visitors who spend time relaxing and enjoying the art and books.