Limited space was no issue for Japanese architecture firm YUAA Architects in designing this slender home in Tokyo. Their so-called 1.8M House, true to its pint-sized name, stands on a mere eight-foot-wide and 36-foot-deep plot, sandwiched between squat neighborhood buildings and jutting up past their rooflines like a lanky sibling. With large windows and openings allowing for both natural light and ventilation, and furnishings with fine materials and textures that compliment the narrow-set environment, it is both cozy and accommodating for a single-family home. Multiple levels of overlapping floors mesh easily with one another to create an atmosphere of interior openness. In addition to creating a balance between the different levels and establishing a common thread throughout the interior, shelves are perfect installations for storage. Scaffolding boards and marble dust paintings have the similar effect of developing the streamlined interior without detracting from the residence. Columns and beams that might otherwise minimize interior space are installed throughout the home so as to maximize the perception of available space. YUAA Architects used a steel-frame and EZ stake system to support the irregular shape of the lot and the minimal space available. The exterior of the 1.8 M House was also built with materials appropriate for a non-scaffold construction system, while the interior displays exposed piping that gives it a distinct industrial touch. Despite the structural limitations of the narrow space, the 1.8 M House is a perfectly capable substitution for a wider modern residence. With a simple formula and structure that fits well into its surroundings, the YUAA Architects 1.8 M House is an example of an ideal skinny house that provides a solution to the problem of limited space.
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BREAKING> Days after announcing its approval, Japanese government decides to drop Zaha Hadid’s Tokyo Stadium
Just days after giving the go-ahead on Zaha Hadid’s hotly contested designs for the Tokyo Stadium, the Japanese government has retracted its stance. With spiraling costs at the heart of contentions, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the project would now “start over from zero.” Abe has instructed the sports and Olympics ministers to select a new stadium design immediately, but the Prime Minister insisted that no further decision would be greenlighted without “listening to the voices of the people and the athletes.” At the time the government announced its approval, the budget had bloated to $2 billion, with the overly large, "bike helmet" design being publicly slammed by eminent architects including Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki. Public backlash and political battles ensued over who would foot the bill. However, Zaha Hadid Architects maintains it was “not the case that the recently reported cost increases are due to the design, which uses standard materials and techniques well within the capability of Japanese contractors and meets the budget set by the Japan Sports Council.” Instead, the “real challenge” was “agreeing on an acceptable construction cost against the backdrop of steep annual increases in construction costs in Tokyo and a fixed deadline.” Abe made the decision to drop Hadid’s designs after a meeting with the chair of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori. Slated as the centerpiece of the 2020 Olympics, the already much-delayed stadium won’t be completed in time for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, as was originally planned. Sports minister Hakubun Shimomura said that a new design will be selected within the next six months.
Tokyo government approves Zaha Hadid’s designs for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Stadium while controversy continues
Despite courting backlash for being imposingly large and costly, Zaha Hadid’s designs for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Stadium have been green-lighted by the Tokyo government. Officials maintain that further modifications at this stage of proceedings would only incur further expenses from construction delays. In July last year, Hadid acquiesced to criticism against her original stadium, announcing new designs with economizing modifications promising to be more “efficient, user-focused, adaptable and sustainable.” A spokesman for Zaha Hadid Architects told Dezeen that the structure would sport “a lightweight, tensile fabric” to “reduce the weight and materials of the roof to give it greater flexibility as an indoor and outdoor venue.” However, Hadid’s firm declined to disclose whether the size of the venue would also be scaled back. The two massive arches forming the backbone of the roof, which critics have billed an unneeded frill, will prevail. To slash construction costs from the initial $3 billion, officials have proposed delaying building a retracting roof until after the Olympics and making 15,000 of the stadium’s 80,000 seats temporary. “We want to see more existing venues, we want to see the use of more contemporary grandstands,” said John Coates, Vice President of the International OIympics Committee. “It may be that there are new venues and existing venues at the moment that are dedicated for just one sport, where with good programming you could do two.” Nevertheless, the price tag continues to hover at $2 billion due in part to the fact that use of Hadid’s designs requires the demolition of the existing 1964 stadium designed by architect Mitsuo Katayama. Pritzker laureates such as Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki have been among Hadid’s most vocal critics, themselves one of eleven finalists in the 2008 competition. In an interview with Dezeen at the groundbreaking for her 1000 Museum Tower in Miami last year, the Iraqi-British architect posited: “They don’t want a foreigner to build in Tokyo for a national stadium.” However, soaring construction costs have been reported across the board, with the committee reviewing designs for ten Olympic products after bids for one facility came in at 15 times the estimated cost. Although Hadid’s stadium has received the go-ahead, city and central government continue to hotly debate how to split the $2 billion bill.
Construction recently wrapped on Richard Meier's first residential building in Japan—and with its white louvers and glassy facade, it sure has the architect's trademark look. The 49-story, 883-unit building in Tokyo is the first piece of the Harumi Towers, a residential development that will include 1,744 apartments when the second tower opens next April. On Meier's website, Dukho Yeon, the partner-in-charge, described the two buildings as siblings "with two unique designs each with its own character, image and movement, in dialogue and harmony with one another." The residential buildings, which will share amenities, also come with a public promenade along Tokyo Bay.
Wonders of the World: Ashikaga Park in Japan begets a fairytale dreamscape with thousands of dripping wisteria blooms
If marveling at Spring’s fledgling flora will usher in warmer weather quicker, here’s something to ogle. The wisteria blooms at world-famous Ashikaga Park, located 50 miles from Tokyo, Japan, gives New York City’s botanical garden a run for its money with its live hanging curtains of cascading petals that render a fairytale-like dreamscape. The park is home to Japan’s largest and oldest flowers, a cultural icon locally known as fuji. What is now a panorama of pastel petals began as four giant wisteria vines in 1996, which have since grown to cover 11,000 square feet. The carefully pruned blooms hang from trellises and are grouped in clusters, and with proper manicuring, can grow upwards in tree form rather than climb surfaces. Related to the pea and native to North America, China and Japan, the climbing plants can be seen in their best light from mid-April to mid-May, when tourists from all over the world throng the park. The 291 foot-long Tunnel of White Wisteria envelops visitors from all sides, while the Giant Wisteria is a living umbrella whose multi-colored shade spans 118 by 118 feet. Meanwhile, the Yae-fuji wisteria trellis of purple blooms resembles hanging grapes, but the main attractions are the white wisteria “Waterfall” and the yellow Kibana-fuji. One hundred and sixty of the wisteria plants are more than 60 years old, while one plant has reputedly attained the tender age of 144. Fuji start off as light pink blooms, which then become purple, white, and then yellow. Beneath the surface, 260 tons of charcoal is buried, which fertilizes the soil and helps to purify the air much the way ash from a newly-erupted volcano yields richer earth. An awe-inspiring experience redolent of scenes from Avatar, the park admits adult visitors for around 1,000 yen, depending on the season.
Marc Jacobs flagship store features a tripartite facade of aluminum, tile, and glass.Commissioned to design Marc Jacobs' flagship Tokyo store, Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects' first order of business was to rectify the desire for an iconic urban presence with strict local regulations. To make the 2,800-square-meter shop more visible from nearby Omotesando Street, the architects took advantage of a loophole in the building code that allowed them to double the height of the structure as long as the top half was not occupiable. The catch was that the code required a 500-millimeter gap between the occupiable and non-occupiable spaces. "Our first strategy was to create a louvered facade system that would disguise [the divide]," recalled principal Stephan Jaklitsch. But after an afternoon walk through the Imperial gardens, they reversed course. "We were inspired by the vernacular architecture," said project architect Jonathan Kirk. "We wanted to somehow utilize the language of proportions, but also the materiality within that experience. Rather than trying to create something that was monolithic, we began to look at different materials for each of the building's components." The result, called Tōrō Ishi Ku (lantern-rock-void), makes its mark on the city with a tripartite facade in punched aluminum, bespoke tile, and glass. The top, non-occupiable half of the store is wrapped in stamped aluminum panels. Jaklitsch came up with the idea of a patterned two-dimensional facade after a trip to Prague Castle. "There was a smooth facade, but it employed a visual trick to deliver an illusion of depth," he said. "We were in a sense doing the same thing [in Tokyo]. It looks like a quilted facade, and appears to wrap around seamlessly." The texture of small punched holes was derived from a method of fabrication common throughout Tokyo. Behind the aluminum, the architects installed a fabric scrim that in turn reflects light from a series of LEDs, so that the upper portion of the building—the tōrō, or lantern—glows at night. A second optical illusion concerns the size of the aluminum panels themselves. Each large rectangular aluminum panel in fact comprises four separate aluminum pieces bolted together. Deep reveal seams between each four-part component result from turning the edges over to create rigidity, and also allow for thermal expansion and movement during seismic activity. "What ends up looking very simple in presentation is actually quite complex," said Kirk. Jaklitsch/Gardner defined the central portion of the building—the ishi, or "rock" containing a ready-to-wear showroom—with an opaque rain screen of bespoke tile. The building falls within a fire zone, so the architects were restricted to either fire glass or a non-combustible material. "Because it was also a more private program, and because we were dealing with various conditions in the adjacent buildings, we clad the entire thing in porcelain tile," explained Kirk. The sole exceptions are a single window on each of the building's east and west faces. The blade-shaped tiles were made from molds with a score joint in the middle. Each larger component was broken in two to create bespoke texturing along two edges; the half-tiles were then randomized and arranged in offset rows to form an interlocking pattern at the building's corners. The architects had originally intended to adhere the tile directly to the second floor's extruded concrete exterior, but the porcelain proved too heavy. Instead, they worked with the manufacturer to develop a custom fixing solution, in which the tiles are held off the wall by a series of metal studs. As a result, said Kirk, "the tiles can appear continuous across the concrete panels, which have seams about every three feet. The tiles are independent of the seams because the mounting brackets aren't affected by them." Like the aluminum panels above, the tiles are designed to move freely in case of an earthquake. Tōrō Ishi Ku's "void"—its ground-floor display room—is a transparent glass box. "We went through a number of different studies to get the proportions of the first and second floor just right," said Jaklitsch. The architects discovered that by restricting the height to three meters, they could eliminate the need for anchoring fins, thus increasing the sense of openness to the surrounding buildings. The feeling of continuity between inside and out is further emphasized by the use of honed granite for both the interior floor and the surrounding sidewalks. In this case, Jaklitsch/Gardner's sleight-of-hand worked too well. After several pedestrians collided with the glass, the architects modified the design by applying a subtle vertical striping to the exterior glass at eye level. One final consideration helped shape the shop's unique envelope: the rapidity with which the surrounding built environment is changing. The life expectancy of structures in the area averages only 26 years, explained Jaklitsch. Even as they were designing Tōrō Ishi Ku, the building across the street was torn down. "It became a matter of balancing the massing with this transitional zone between the commercial and residential districts," he said. "We were trying to anticipate the next three chess moves in this urban game."
Speaking of controversy, Zaha Hadid can’t catch a break! Since her stadium design for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was unveiled, complaints have arisen about the scale and height of the project. Then two of Japan’s biggest architects—Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki—signed on to a petition calling for a revised design. As of press time more than 26,500 people have signed on to protest the design. Is someone’s star beginning to dim?
Situated on the fringes of Tokyo's dense urban fabric, House K—designed by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects—provides an innovative take on the traditional duplex home. The architects were posed with the challenge of creating a joint-living arrangement for two families on a very narrow piece of land. While the structure may look small and narrow from the outside, the thoughtful design demonstrates that a building’s allocated footprint need not be a limiting factor in achieving a feeling of wide, open spaces. There are no dividing walls of a traditional duplex house which would essentially create two separate residences. Instead, the structure consists of 3 main components: a slender wing, a wider wing, and a long corridor which connects the two. While the slender wing of the house is less than seven feet wide, the height is 30 feet, making maximum use of vertical space. Stretching across a three-tiered floor plan, the kitchens, bathrooms, closets and a small bedroom are all contained in the slender wing of the house, while larger bedrooms and living rooms occupy the wider half of the building. The corridor connecting the two wings is very well lit through the strategic placement of punctured apertures in the roof structure, and instead of doorways, there are large openings in the walls of the corridor. Overall, this creates a sense of openness and outdoor space inside the residence. The juxtaposition of wood and concrete create an interesting dialogue; the wooden elements reminiscent of traditional Japanese homes, while the concrete evokes a distinctly modern aesthetic. This space-efficient house provides an innovative solution to housing in dense cities, whilst maintaining privacy, physical comfort, and a superior level of design aesthetic.
Placed within Tokyo’s Daikanayama district, architect Arthur Casas has designed a flagship store to appear completely as an opaque box. As fashion trends change, so does the store’s appearance. The exterior walls boast a bold graphic design that will surely be swapped out for the next season’s trends. Created to display Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchcovitch’s clothing designs, the box nods to the idea of pedestrian curiosity and does not reveal its entire contents even when opened. The multi-level box has been described as “a wrapped up present just waiting to be opened.” Completed in 2007, the approximately 1,076 square-foot store’s facade embraces flashy prints and daring designs, but features surprisingly neutral interior materials in order to emphasize the details found in Herchcovitch's designs. The store contains an exhibition space in addition to storage space at the mezzanine level and a basement.
The Japan Art Association, celebrating its 25th anniversary, has named British architect David Chipperfield as a 2013 Praemium Imperiale laureate. The award offers 15 million yen (roughly $150,000) to each winner and acknowledges lifetime achievement in the arts. The prizes will be formally presented in Tokyo next month. Alongside additional 2013 recipients in other fields, Chipperfield joins a lineup of 124 artists including Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, and Renzo Piano. Japan Art Association chairman Hisashi Hieda said, “we reaffirm our commitment to honoring the arts and to celebrating its most imaginative and thought-provoking practitioners. The 2013 Praemium Imperiale laureates enrich our lives and touch a common chord of humanity despite geographic and linguistic barriers.”
Zaha Hadid wins again! Following a star-studded design competition, the Japanese Sports Council has announced Hadid as the winner of the New National Stadium in Japan, beating out Toyo Ito, SANAA, Populous, UN Studio among others and taking home a $250,000 prize. All-star designer of London's 2012 Aquatics Center for the summer Olympics and the first female to ever win the Pritzker Architecture prize, Hadid continues her legacy with this new stadium in Tokyo. Estimated to cost around $1.6 billion, the venue will seat 80,000 visitors and sport a retractable roof. Japanese architect and jury chair, Tadao Andao, commented on Hadid's fluid design as a complement to the crowded Tokyo landscape as well as being environmentally efficient and able to fit the strict completion deadline. "It has dynamism, which is most essential to sport and its streamlined shape fits its internal space. It is also new in terms of structural technology," Ando told the AFP. The stadium's smooth and sinuous white curves fall in line with Hadid's futuristic style and should play a unique addition to the city's terrain. The new structure replaces the existing 54,000-seat national stadium that featured prominently in Japan's 1964 Olympics. The new stadium will have a similar capacity as Beijing's Olympic "Bird's Nest" stadium—91,000 seats—and will feature an all-weather roof. Construction is set to begin in 2015 with a completion scheduled in 2018. Hadid's new stadium design will play host to the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and may even hold the 2020 Summer Olympics should Tokyo be granted its request to host them.
New York firm Stephan Jaklitsch Architects (SJA) has completed the latest jewel box on Tokyo's premiere shopping street, the Omotesando-dori in the Aoyama shopping district. The richly textured Marc Jacobs flagship store is comprised of three masses each of glass, stone, and perforated metal, the latter two appearing to float above the sidewalk. Defining the 2,800 square foot, three-story store is its tripartite massing depicting void, rock, and lantern. Of the three, the lantern top level is visually most dynamic, especially when backlit at night, while the middle rock level, clad in rough terra-cotta pieces, offers maximum texture. SJA wanted to minimize visual interruption on the sidewalk level to blur interior and exterior spaces. While the building contains three floors, the striated levels can be deceiving as one level is actually underground. Because of zoning limiting building height to two floors above grade, the metal paneled lantern level serves as a visual element, or kosakubutsu, giving the building extra mass and its defining element to differentiate the building from its rather distinguished neighbors including Herzog & de Meuron's Prada store across the street. The project was recently awarded an Award of Excellence from the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects.