FUTABASOU Apartments / Masashi Miyamoto Architects / mmar
Text description provided by the architects. A residential complex consisting of six units, scheduled to open in Spring 2019 and completed in Fall 2021. Located in Shitamachi Tokyo, in the heart of a quiet residential area with a local shrine and shopping area, as well as many long-term residents. This housing project aims to provide a space for “Life and Work” that can accommodate one or two people, couples, siblings or friends, as well as those who need a home and office, and who need a place to live and work.
We created this space by considering what a comfortable space means for the residents, and at the same time how this space could complement the local environment. In recent years, the design of many apartment complexes has limited choices for residents’ expression and lifestyle. Our aim was to create a flexible space where residents could create a base for various activities beyond just a place to return to after work to sleep.
The volume of Futabasou is arranged to resemble a mound of clay or soft yokan slices, one on top of the other, to eliminate the brutal-looking concrete and harmonize it with the neighboring houses and the environment. While the materials and textures are consistent throughout the exterior, each unit has an individual character that functions independently rather than forming a single mass. Each “slice” as a single unit is constructed to serve as a single building block and structure. The space between each unit creates the main circulation space leading to courtyards and terraces, a staircase and to the common area, creating a three-dimensional pathway to the building. The goal is that by changing the perception of each unit into a ‘home’ rather than a ‘room’, people form a stronger attachment to the space.
In the Shitamachi areas, there is a tradition of nurturing small alleys. Neighbors greet each other as they pass, and passersby are entertained by small gardens resembling the “nokisaki” of individual houses. In FUTABASOU, connecting with the adjacent alleys, our intention is to continue the traditions of the alleys cherished by the residents of the neighborhood and to create an expression of the alleys that pass through the building from the outside to the living room walk.
To create a space open to the alleyway, windblocks with a motif of traditional Japanese bamboo weaves have been used on the exterior walls of the stairway and courtyard, creating an airy alleyway while maintaining the privacy of the residents. These blocks let light in and out. During the day, the blocks allow light to enter the building, and after sunset, the building itself illuminates the alleyway like a traditional stone lantern.
A display shelf is provided at the entrance to each apartment as a space for residents to express their individuality, much like the “nokisaki” of individual houses in the neighborhood often used as a place to express residents’ identities. The interior of the house is a single large space that can be divided with curtains into “living room”, “bedroom”, “Hiroen” and “study room”, depending on the wishes of the residents. A courtyard or patio with windows allows air and light to circulate through all areas of the space, including the kitchen and bathroom.
1 Yokan is a Japanese confection made from red bean paste, agar and sugar. It normally comes in a gelled block form and eaten in slices.
2 Nokisaki is a term for a small space between a house and an adjacent alley.