Reversible destiny lofts. Tokyo. Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins. 2005

Sport & Wellness, Loft, Apartment,



This nine-unit apartment building constructed in Mitaka, outside Tokyo, was designed by Japanese architects and artists Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins on the basis of criteria that it would be an understatement to call "original".

Reversible destiny lofts. Tokyo. Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins. 2005 The plan to build an "obstacle house" in which every element is arranged and designed to offer the opposite of comfort and convenience seems highly unlikely. Shusaka and Madeline were inspired by the theory, developed since the '60s, that the environment we live in has a significant influence on our lifestyles. There?s nothing new about this, and in fact the Architectural Body Research Foundation has set professionals from a variety of disciplines to demonstrating that keeping the mind active improves quality of life.
But the Reversible Destiny Lofts go beyond this assumption, complicating the inhabitants? lives with an environment in which everything is illogical, uncomfortable, far removed from our habits, and incompatible with the canons of harmony.
Each apartment is made of blocks of cement in different shapes, which are preassembled and may be repositioned.In the long run their strong, contrasting colours become bothersome, while sloped floors and tight passageways force people to bend and exercise continuously.
Of course the units are intended primarily for the elderly, for the architects believe that mental and physical decline will be slowed by this state of constant stress.
In these apartments the sense of space and balance that has always guided the design of residential spaces is totally lacking. Blue, yellow, pink, red and other bright colours cover the forms of the building, square in some places and rounded in others, like a toy box. The interior features a dining room surrounded by a grainy wall with a hollowed out kitchen and a concave study.The units have a veranda, but to get to it people have to bend down or crawl, as the door is small and narrow.
And that?s not all: to live in this home you need to have an excellent memory, because, for instance, light switches are positioned in illogical places, and there is no correspondence between the room where the lights are and the location of the light switches. There is not a lot of room for furniture, requiring the inhabitants to come up with alternative solutions.
Completed in October 2005, the apartments, surprisingly, cost more than twice the price of a regular residential unit: about 360 thousand dollars!But this is not the first project of its kind: a decade ago the two architects designed a park in Gifu, also in Japan, inspired by the same criteria.

Laura Della Badia

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