November 23rd, 2007
scaffolding from the neighbour’s house came down and we have our first good look at the building.
the properties we both are building on were made by subdividing a larger site down the middle – so the conditions were nearly identical as a starting point for design. The area of the building footprint is also identical as we each chose to build to the maximum the law allows. That they look so different is accounted for by our decision to make a large interior green space and a parking area below the cantilevered living room. The neighbour’s home is perhaps more representative of typical housing in Tokyo; with blank walls to the sides; windows to the front and back; and no garden to speak of. It makes sense to take this aproach when the land available is so small and everyone so close together, but experientially can be limited.We are lucky to have a client in this case who is not overly concerned about visual privacy, so we took advantage of what the site had to offer spatially and in terms of access to light and weather – regardless of whether the neighbours would be able to look in or not. While Rem Koolhaas suggested we should F**K context, here the decision is not so confrontational. This too is a stategy for building in an extreme urban environment. A stategy that recognises the context leaves a lot to be desired, but doesn’t assume we need to exclude it, counter it or transform it to make it work. The ugliness of proximity is taken on as a starting point. It may not be beautiful, but with the alternative being to act falsely introverted our only choice is to move on as though it didn’t matter…
↑↑ with only 5 weeks til final inspection by the municipality the interior works are starting to heat up.
One unfortunate reality of building in the city on such a small property is the need to use wired glass to meet fire codes. It is nice to see the building envelope properly enclosed though, as the glass is finally installed in all of the windows. Only the large stair window is left to go.
Most of the interior subtrate of hardened plaster board has also been put in place. On the 2nd floor it was screwed directly into the wood structure, but on the ground floor we are using a glue to attach the boards over the insulation. This simplifies the detailing, removes thermal breaks and lets us finish the wall without adding too much to the thickness of the assembly. You can see what I am talking about in the image below.
↑↑ and finally, another shot of the stairway railing in progress. The carpenter started cutting holes, following our pattern sheets. Is gonna look beautiful when it is done.