February 21st, 2010
Tokyo is famous for being in constant motion, always in flux, perpetually unbuilt.
Somehow it doesn’t feel that way when it comes time to actually design here. To be fair, there is no certainty about what kind of building will be your neighbour in the next five years, that is perfectly true. But Tokyo is not a frontier city, with large fields beckoning to be built up with new communities - instead most new communities (and houses) are built on infill land, cobbled together over years, or grabbed up when it becomes available.
For architects there are all kinds of implications, especially since there is no master plan shaping Tokyo at all and the location of homes and businesses is very nearly a random thing. But perhaps the most overlooked reality is that each project is a bit like discovering a different city. Just when we think we have gotten ahold of things, we find something new.
The site for this home is no exception.
It sits like a mushroom terminating a long and winding road. The property itself shares half of the road with a neighbour, so that only 2 meters (about 6 feet) of the tarmac actually touches the site. Just large enough for a car to squeeze through. That is, after sliding under two trees, which form a green bridge of sorts across the gap between houses. This is a rather nice effect actually, and one we hope we can keep intact even though there will be construction trucks of some size passing through.
The site itself is hemmed in on 4 sides by buildings, but we are lucky that the property to the West is currently occupied by a wedding chapel and well planted with trees. Setback regulations designed to ensure solar access also work well for us, and the faux-brick building to the south steps back sharply, allowing an abundance of light to enter the site.
Looking further afield, a park and green space is, for Tokyo, rather abundant. All in all, a nice place to build a house.