Tomigaya Apartment was built in the intensively developed commercial district of Shibuya, 7 minute-walk from the Tokyo Olympic Gymnasium by Kenzo Tange. It’s street, Inokashira Dori, is a major arteria, eastbound from the city center.
The surrounding environment is an incoherent urban fabric that features both narrow alleys with traditional houses and wide trafficked roads where sleazy commercial architecture takes place. The site lies at the intersection between these two settlement patterns and the street level on the front is four meters above the back alley..
The building is shaped as a nine storeys tower that deploys seven dwelling typologies for eighteen housing units, completed with a shed for communal storage –bikes and garbage- located at the corner of the lot, where the slope in steeper. The building is articulated into three blocks and each of them features distinctive materials, colours, and proportions. The tower at the center hosts the vertical circulation –i.e. elevator, emergency stairs and equipment ducts. The charcoal-silver color of its exterior cladding comes from galvanized steel plates tarnished by phosphoric acid. The east end tower, on the left, is designed in continuity with the neighbouring buildings: it is composed of a flat wall on the eastern edge of the lot, of a slender enclosure containing water pipes and of a single story apartment is piled up in-between.
Furthermore, I added some minor elements around the main bodies that would be visually appealing enough to conceal the vertical giants from the passers byes’ consciousness. A rusty, dark brown curvy plate of Corten Steel -10 mm thick- serves as main entrance and shed for bicycle & garbage; a retaining wall with a cubicle box lies on the southern property line and plant-box on the entrance porch. Their role is to be as intermediate entities between people and residential towers: at the foot of huge, cold and hard edge of the apartment building, the rusty figures show their tiny, warm and curvy profiles to enchant pedestrians with hints of their mysterious content. They should stimulate their curiosity and be intrinsically enigmatic beyond any expression. As aliens surviving with pabulum of dissimulation.
Text by Satoshi Okada