Frank la Rivière, Architects inc
Tokyo, Japan | View Map
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Frank la Rivière, Architects inc as Architects

A rough concrete shell in a true state of abandonment without windows or water protection more in the sense of a dilapidated ruin than a building of recent date; this was the starting point for this project. Put up for sale by the previous owner before the concrete works were finished the site was purchased our client with the initial idea to create a large apartment for private habitation for a family of three. The concrete structure of 4 stories high and a basement with an L-shaped foot print was initially conceived as an apartment building containing 8 one-room units and is characterized by its relatively small wall to wall distance of about 2.8 m.

We redesigned the building to contain one large apartment on the 3rd, 4th floor and partially on the 2nd floor with 3 bedrooms. On the second floor a stand alone apartment and the third apartment located on the first floor and in the basement.

The rather restrictive one room apartments with their one directional orientation and small wall to wall distances were not suited for the requirements of a large apartment. By erasing strategically parts of walls unexpected spaces could be created such as combining the double height spaces of two adjacent apartments to one large double height space. This potential for the creation of these interesting spaces was justified on the basis of the structural calculations that put the work of the structural engineer in opposition to the normal constructive approach; here the concept was constructing through erasure.

The architectonic idea was to have partial finishes contrast and wrap the rough concrete, only where needed for a precise adjustment to the requirements of the space. This act of wrapping, results either in a horizontal “loop” or a vertical “loop” shape. All these interventions to the existing building are expressed as additions to the building just inserted in the concrete. In the liberated spaces the previously mentioned loops were inserted as large pieces of furniture. The result is a sort of islands between which daily life will evolve and they determine the living space, dining kitchen, the master bedroom and the children’s and guest bedrooms. Each “loop” was given just one finish for the floor, walls and ceilings. In order to create a different quality per space, each loop was given a different finish, such as bamboo for the dining kitchen, galvanized steel plate for the living, vulcanized paper made from recycled pulp for the guest room or cushioned denim fabric for the children’s bedroom..

The small street in front of the building is aligned with office buildings. In order to create sufficient privacy for habitation, the front façade is designed as a sort of filter composed of galvanized reinforcement bars to soften the appearance, add complexity and wrap the building as a whole in an almost fabric like feature that refers to the scale of the whole building and intermediates between the public scale and the private realm.

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