ARTechnic architects is the name of the Japanese studio that designed Breeze, an apartment complex completed in 2012 in Setagaya, one of the most residential areas in central Tokyo. ARTechnic architects wanted to create a small building for luxury residences that would protect the inhabitants’ privacy against the busy city outside. According to Forbes magazine, in 2013 Tokyo was second only to Hong Kong in the cost of luxury real estate per square metre. Breeze expresses the urgency of the need for privacy in a city where space is a luxury.
The need to make use of the full length and depth of the perfectly rectangular lot, located at the junction of two roads, led ARTechnic architects to detach the side surface from its volume, treating it as a freestanding element to which to give dynamism and architectural identity. This attenuates the weight of the compact block dictated by the requirements of distribution and use of space, creating a wall that is given depth by the dual reading permitted by the concrete surfaces screening the entrance to the residential units.
The need to set aside space for parking at ground level to the north and east where the site borders on the two city streets, narrows the layout, but it expands again on the two upper levels, creating a plastic form. It is wonderful to see how the massive concrete walls open up like the petals of a flower in the sun. We would not have used this poetic metaphor if we were not aware how sensitive the “Land of the Rising Sun” is to this theme. There is a major difference between this “face” of the building and the vision of the southern wall, made entirely of glass and open onto the gardens.
The tall bare concrete walls conceal elegant concrete staircases leading to the residences’ separate entrances on the first and second floor. The project includes 8 residential units, the 4 biggest of which are located on the second and third floors, while 4 smaller units occupy the first floor and the mezzanine. Unit B is an exception, located on the northeast corner, with a home on the first floor and an office with a separate entrance. The layout of the apartments normally puts the bedrooms on the north side, so that the living area, reached via a corridor lined with custom-made built-in wardrobes, a common feature in Japanese homes, can enjoy a complete view over the garden. The design of the interiors is inspired by the search for light and for a relationship with vegetation: to add to the amount of space and natural light on the ground floor and mezzanine units, as the cross section reveals, the architects set the hanging garden on the second level at an angle, just enough to create a living area two storeys high below it which would benefit from the exposure to the south. The side wall is also very interesting, featuring a series of patios and hanging gardens extending upwards, echoing the concrete screens of the external walls.
Architects: Kotaro Ide (ARTechnic architects)
Assistants: Ruri Mitsuyasu, Tatsuya Orito
Mechanical and Electrical design: Kotaro Ide, Ruri Mitsuyasu (ARTechnic architects)
Structural engineer: Naomi Kitayama (NAO)
Constructor: Hiroshi / Satohide
Client: Daizawa court
Location: Setagaya, Tokyo (Japan)
Structure in reinforced concrete
Foundation: Spread foundation
Site area: 915,84 sqm
Building area: 520,86 sqm
Total floor area: 1251,79 sqm
Process of work: January 2010 - June 2010
Construction period: January 2011 - June 2012
Roof: asphalt waterproofed concrete with polystyrene heat insulating board t=60mm covered by concrete board
Openings: steel and aluminum sash
Terrace flooring: reproduction wood panel
Ceiling and interior wall: concrete with paint finish, walnut plywood impregnated with urethane paint finish, wooden fibre cement board finish
Walls: exposed wood patterned concrete, fiber reinforced cement board with clear paint finish, exposed concrete, perforated board with clear finish
Floor: walnut flooring, concrete exposed-aggregate finish by washing with color paint finish, self-leveling cement finish by washing with color paint finish
Air conditioning systems: heating and cooling system / heat pump warm and cool air in-floor heating, electronic floor heating, air cooling heat pump air conditioner
Photos by: Nacasa & Partners Inc.