Design offers breathing room for an outdoor life in the city
After decades of de-centralisation, living in the centre is becoming popular in Tokyo, and residential towers have begun to populate the city in large numbers. Collectively the additions form a typology that embraces height but unexpectedly denies the surrounding urban landscape in favor of an interior life with minimal outdoor space. Though balconies are common they are purely technical, included mostly as service zones to be filled with mechanical equipment and the accessories of the emergency escape system.
For those who wish to have some degree of inhabitable outdoor space there is little choice but to leave the city centre and settle into a family home in the suburbs. The HA tower is based on an open approach to urban life, pulling the city into the interior of the units, but still offering large open spaces that otherwise are only available on the urban fringe.
Located in Higashi-Azabu, within walking distance of a cluster of rail lines, Shiba Park and Tokyo Tower, the corner site is small, covering only 130 sq m and is constrained by a floor area ratio that limits construction to 8 floors. Creating a more livable urban typology requires a certain amount of opportunism.
In this case the architects discovered the site had a maximum height that would never be reached by stacking floors from the ground up - but, if the floors were pulled apart and designed from the top down, it was possible to create large outdoor spaces and extend the living area of the apartments into the city. The strategy also suggested a variety of unit types, from double height apartments on the higher floors, to units with substantial roof decks that connect the city directly to the living room.
The project was undertaken in co-operation with Francois Blanciak.