Y - apartment

Y邸 ( 2020 )

This is a renovation project of a 40-year-old apartment in Tokyo.

We did an interior renewal of a 60㎡ general rectangle unit for a newly-wed young couple.

The client's requests were very common, such as a good space to enjoy food and wine with friends, and a large kitchen. However, we also received an unusual request and it was to design something that we had never seen before.

Even so, we started with the basics as always. For example, searching ways to organise the space as logically as possible while checking the existing water supply / drainage and exhaust routes, or finding the ways to locate the rooms and the kitchen, and contemplating whether the corridor can be positioned other than the centre.

In the early stages of the study, we used a model to test the central corridor and the outer corridor. We tried a number of room allocation plans by reducing the area of the corridor and the living rooms that was taking up the space. Then, at one point, we tried separating the rooms - that were once attached - by 11cm. At that moment, we felt that the quality of the space had heightened significantly, even though the gap was only 11cm.

The view on the other side of the living room reached the entrance and you could feel the person on the other side of the box. Moreover, you even get the feeling that the rooms facing each other are connected despite the gap. Although we moved it without any intention, and it was a mere gap, we got a feeling that this was the beginning of something. It was like a gimmick without an answer.

From that time on, we decided to repeat the studies to maximise the potential. The final theme was to seek something unexpectable out of this space, which could exceed the temporary settings (design) of the architect. It was a hypothesis that it may be about “designing imperfections".

In the case of a design like ours, in order to "design imperfections”, we had to "design imperfections properly". Design has a purpose and effect by operation. That is to say , we design with a clear purpose and effect in mind. Thus, in order to create imperfections in the design, it may be right to "set the purpose and effect to imperfections". In other words, it may be said that an unexpected effect is produced or an unexpected activity is produced by the unfixed settings. Compared to sculptures, theatrical performances, or other works of art that are not intended for people to live in, there are residents and users in our space. The beginning of buildings and spaces is when they are completed, and from there on, the residents should be the one to make it a better space. We believe that a space which has an unexpected impact on the resident or the user, or a space where the resident can discover new ways of using are considered to be a good space.

For that purpose, we came to a conclusion where setting the purpose and effect as incomplete, and fixing the design in the state to leave any possibilities mean "designing imperfections." This project was the very practice of this hypothesis. The phrase "We tried to open a gap of 11 cm" expresses only the pure operation, not the purpose or effect.