This hotel and café is located in the Shin Okubo district of Tokyo, a lively, bustling urban neighborhood adjacent to the popular foreign tourist destination of Shinjuku. Despite this desirable location, however, it sits in the midst of an unattractive mixed-use environment. We designed a café and courtyard between the hotel building and the street running in front of it to serve as a buffer zone. The café is open to the general public and contributes to neighborhood development by providing a place for people to meet and interact.
Visitors to this hotel typically do not spend their days relaxing in their rooms and eating fancy meals, but rather use it as a home base and resting spot between tourist activities. For that reason, we made each room as small as possible and instead allotted extra space to the café and courtyard, creating an intermediary space between the city’s public and private zones for visitors to spend time in.
While the guest rooms are small, they contrast with those in truly minimal hotels intended only for sleeping in that both the bathrooms and main rooms are carefully designed to provide the same relaxing atmosphere as a luxury hotel. In particular, replacing the existing shower units with glass walls and doors relieved both the cramped feeling of the sleeping areas and the enclosed feeling of the bathrooms.
Another important element in creating a comfortable, calming atmosphere was the use of texture. By finishing the exterior walls with special-order black bricks and laying stones along the approach and courtyard, we created a dignified mood evocative of an atmospheric European lane. Stepping through the arched entrance, visitors forget the hustle and bustle of the surrounding neighborhood and are able to relax into a more calming environment.
The entrance and hallways similarly use black as their keynote color, accented with artwork and original signs to make a stylish urban space. In contrast, guest rooms are mostly white andexposed concrete, with textured materials such as wood furniture, tiles, and carpet added to enhance comfort and warmth.
The combination of the café and courtyard with richly interior spaces comes together in a convenient, comfortable hotel that is distinct from both luxury and minimal hotels. We hope the design serves as a model for a new kind of hotel that makes the most of a good location.