Thursday, November 15, 2007

Small House

Small House, Sejima

Due to the intense demands of space and astronomical costs of real estate in Tokyo SANAA’s Small House is an exercise in making the most with very little. Located on a 60m2 lot in central Tokyo, SANAA have managed to create a family home for a designer, his wife and their daughter.

In order to maximise the useable space of each floorplate each floor contains a single function. The partial basement level contains a bedroom and bathroom used by the whole family, the ground floor is a family room which will become the daughter’s bedroom when she grows older, the second level contains the kitchen and dining room and the top floor contains a soaking tub and terrace with city views enclosed in metal mesh.

The size of each floor plate is determined by each function creating the interesting form of the house, reflecting and making possible the internal organisation. The open stair provides the main circulation and structure that supports thin concrete slabs. Every element in the house has been reduced to a minimum to provide the maximum possible space and the organisation and construction of the house achieved with a minimum of means.

On the day I visited the house the curtains were closed and the building was unlike the pristine white renderings and models that are produced by the office. The fineness of the detailing and the thinness of the materials did not seem to be aging well. The extensive glazing on the façade makes it possible to see into most of the house and I was curious to know how often the curtains are open.

The Small House is an incredible exercise in creating such an open, spacious and interesting building within such tight constraints and it was interesting to finally see a Sejima building and how the pristine beauty of their renderings and models appears in reality.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Nagakin Capsule Tower

Kisho Kurokawa Nakagin Capsule Tower

The Nagakin Capsule Tower (1970) in Tokyo designed by Kisho Kurakawa is one of the best examples of Metabolist Architecture in which independent and interchangeable parts are connected to a permanant core. Kurokawa designed the rooms as independent units which are plugged into a concrete core allowing the rooms to be altered or replaced as necessary. Due to lack of maintenance and neglect the building is in danger of being demolished and the composition of the units has remained unchanged since completion.

The building is 14-storeys high and contains 140 units that were designed to provide economical housing for Tokyo businessmen who worked long hours.

After visiting the building it seemed to be one of the most inspiring failures of modern architecture I have seen.

Tod's Omotesando

Tod's Omotesando Building, Toyo Ito

Tod's Omotesando, 2005, by Toyo Ito & Associates

Maison Hermes

Hermes and the Deesee

Maison Hermes, Tokyo (1998-2001) by Renzo Piano is the corporate headquarters and retail store for Hermes Japan. The program includes offices, workshops, retail and exhibition spaces, multimedia areas and a roof garden. The building also includes access to the subway via a courtyard which divides the long facade in two.

It is an elegant glowing rectangular form which has been carefully crafted from specially designed 45cm x 45cm glass blocks which gives the impression of the building as a precious object containing equally precious objects

Renzo Piano stated that the building was inspired by traditional Japanese lanterns. The thickness of glass facade blurs the activity within during the day and at night the building glows from the light within whilst simultaneously providing acoustic insulation from the bustling Ginza streets outside. Clear glass boxes become display cases for Hermes products at street level.

Maison Hermes is the most elegant use of glass blocks I have ever seen.



Monday, November 12, 2007

Location : TOKYO

Tokyo from Roppongi

8,893,094 in 621.81km2 (23 special wards)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Chikatsu-Asuka Historical Museum

Chikatsu-Asuka Historical Museum

The Chikatsu-Asuka Historical Museum (1994) designed by Tadao Ando.

This museum dedicated to the prehistoric kofun culture and specifically it's burial mounds, 200 of which are located in Osaka prefecture, formally and symbolically references the burial mounds themselves. The building is set amongst the beautiful natural environment of plum trees, ponds and walking paths throughout the surrounding hills which the building is integrated with through its stepped roof and concrete walls that follow the terrain and form small pockets into which the landscapes extends. Despite the museums size the building plays an intergral role in the landscape without being intrusive.

The building reinforces and reminds the visitor of the role of the museum and the burial mounds which are visible from selected vantage points on the building and from within the landscape without being contrived or overtly obvious. It is the subtle handling of the cultural significance of the building that enhances both the experience of the building and of the museum.

Chikatsu-Asuka Historical Museum

Friday, November 9, 2007


Ryoanji Temple

Ryoan-ji Temple, Kyoto, 1400's


Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto

Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto

Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto, 1637

Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto

Ninomaru Palace

Nijō Castle

Ninomaru Palace in Nijō Castle, 1626

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Isis Apartments

Domain road

Isis Apartments (2007) designed by Wood Marsh Architects is a bold monolithic form containing eight apartments. The building was inspired by the free-standing and symmetrical mansions along Domain Road. The building maintains the setbacks of the surrounding buildings and places the building within the the surrounding walled gardens.

The required setbacks have been achieved by creating a tapered pyramidal form reinforcing the singularity of the building. The three facades that are visible from Domain Road are symmetrical reinforcing the reference to the neo-classical mansions of the area. Balconies are recessed within the form.

The building is clad in finely detailed terracotta tiles with deeply recessed fenestration. The material is a reinterpretation of the common use of terracotta, mainly as a roofing material, and brick, in the neighborhood.

The multi-residential building reinforces the scales and rhythm of the street which is created from large private homes and apartment buildings without mimicking historical styles.

Wood Marsh Architecture

Isis Apartments


Saturday, February 3, 2007



The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) by Wood Marsh Architects, 2002, is a contemporary art gallery located near the VCA in Melbourne. The rusted corten steel monolithic building set in a landscape of pale earth is a reference to the Australian landscape and the factory buildings which originally occupied the site. The bold sculptural form reflects it's function as a sculpture within which to exhibit contemporary art.

The centre contains 3 large gallery spaces, offices, a workshop and the dance studio of the Chunky Move dance company.

Wood Marsh Architecture



Monday, January 1, 2007



This blog is a collection of words and images about buildings I have visited and my own architectural projects. This blog was started in December 2008 and posts have been dated at the time I visited the buildings.

I am currently living in New York. New York is the sixth city I have lived in and during my travels I visited many buildings and felt that the experience of being physically present in a building is considerably more valuable and meaningful than studying the buildings through text and photographs.

It is the spatial experience and the atmosphere of the building which can not be fully captured in reproductions or words which forms a memory of a space in the mind which informs the way we design and imagine our own projects and also help us understand what it is that we are studying and reading about.

It has also given me a sense of purpose when traveling which has taken me to parts of cities I otherwise would not have visited and which are often without the throngs of tourists which visit more popular landmarks.

This blog was begun to compile the many photos I have of buildings and arrange and re-present them as a way of forming a more thorough documentation of my architectural research.