Minami Azabu House Tokyo

210 m2
Team: Koen Klinkers, Will Galloway, Max Kim
status: Built, 2010
structure: Alan Burden (structured environment)
Builder: Tokyu Kensetsu
Photography: Daisuke Akita

In Japan the building code enforces an envelope under which a building must fit. The rules are designed to guarantee access to light for neighbours, which makes sense in a dense urban environment liek Tokyo. Ironically, on a landlocked parcel of the type we were given the rules also ensure the lower levels of any building constructed will be submerged in shadow. The most common solution for many Tokyo-ites is to simply live in the dark. The reason is simple - the building code ensures the largest floor areas are available on the lowest floors, and the understandable impulse is to design a home to be as big as possible and to place the daily living spaces on the ground floor where rooms can be made largest. A Tokyo lifestyle is as a result often dark and introverted.

Here we took a different tack, and reversed the standard typology – the main bedrooms are on the second floor; parking, a hard-surface landscape, and a guest room are on the ground floor, and the living areas are lifted to the top of the home where they are connected to the city by a series of decks and a stairway to a large roof garden.

In a city like Tokyo space is a luxury. By keeping the ground level open the city becomes a kind of backdrop to the entrance. In the same way the decks and balconies that open the home to the city at higher levels creates an enormous outdoor space that would otherwise be impossible in the city centre, on a site like this.