For an electric construction company’s new dormitory, the brief required the maximum number of individual rooms for young employees; so the challenge for the architect was to meet this need in a way that offered the comfort of living characterized by an airy, pleasant tone. The solution began from 7-m2 (75-ft2) single rooms, the minimum size permitted by Tokyo’s building/safety ordinance.
Clad with extruded cement panels, this steel-frame dormitory sits amidst a residential-industrial mixed use area, along a street branching from a national highway. Its simple volume was rationally determined based on cost, construction workload, and laws and regulations (including those for shadow limiting and fire-escape balconies).
The ground floor has a common wet area for washing and a communal kitchen/dining area – moderately sunken to afford privacy by vertically staggering the lines of sight between occupants and passersby while modulating the building height low to fit amiably into the townscape (without being affected by shadow regulations). The upper floors nest ten single rooms with the ceilings composed of exposed beams and structural steel decks, adding a twist to the simple palette of materials. Through openings, the overhead decks bring inside the natural light and social ambience tinged with changing seasons while the matching balcony decks extend the occupants’ sense of space outward. Furthermore, the thin steel exterior railings and airy stairs let light and breezes permeate. The result is a dwelling where a sense of space expands toward the outdoor scenery, capturing the dynamic surrounding environment.