a+u Architecture and Urbanism Magazine

Architecture New Approaches to Apartment Living in Japan

Okurayama Apartment by Kazuyo Sejima & Associates

Kazuyo Sejima designed this nine-unit apartment in Yokohama with an undulating inner court. Each unit has access to either its own garden or roof terrace. The glimpses into this maze-like open space adds a unique character to the surrounding neighborhood.

Yokohama Apartment by Osamu Nishida + Erika Nakagawa / On Design

This timber framed apartment accommodates four artists. The small bedrooms are lifted five meters (16.4 feet) above the ground on the triangular corners of the building. The open-air covered courtyard is shared by the residents as their communal studio and gallery. The exterior stairs to bedrooms are sometimes used as seating when there are performances in the gallery.

Tokyo Apartment by Sou Fujimoto Architect

Sou Fujimoto devised multi-unit housing by literally stacking house-shaped units one atop the other. The topmost units are accessed by exterior staircases, like vertical renditions the narrow alleyways one finds in Tokyo.

Sakura Apartment by Hitoshi Wakamatsu Architect and Associates

This five-story apartment building heightens the contrast between perceived mass and void. Each of the upper level units of accommodation is separated by an outdoor corridor.

Reversible Destiny Lofts Mitaka in Memory of Helen Keller by Shusaku Arakawa + Madeline Gins, Sasui Architects & Engineers

This colorful apartment in Tokyo is intended to awaken human senses. The inside is as colorful as the exterior and finished by different materials (tatami, pebbles, wood, etc.) are used. The living / dining even has bumpy floor to challenge it’s tenants.

Moriyama House by Office of Ryue Nishizawa

Situated in a small-scale residential neighborhood, this three-unit apartment complex has divided the rooms into separate buildings, forming its own small community cluster.

One Roof Apartment by Akihisa Hirata Architecture Office + Yoshihiko Yoshihara

The two halves of this apartment building gracefully separate at the bottom to create a central corridor. Recessed windows are misaligned, creating an informal and playful character on the exterior.

NE Apartment by Yuji Nakae / Nakae Architects + Akiyoshi Takagi / Akiyoshi Takagi Architects + Hirofumi Ohno / Ohno Japan

A gracefully sweeping void is carved out of this small apartment complex to create a private entrance courtyard. Glazing is arranged in continuous strips to accentuate these curves.

Shakujii Apartment by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA

All-glass walls and open terraces comprise this small group of steel-framed apartments situated within a dense residential neighborhood in Tokyo. Another provocative feature of the development is that the residents must go outside to move between different rooms.

Alp by Akihisa Hirata Architecture Office

This sculptural apartment building mimics the roofs and buildings in the surrounding neighborhood. The dark concrete mass is split by an open circulation space at its core, creating a canyon-like entrance.

Apartment in Higashi Fuchu by Mejiro Studio

The undulating facade of this apartment adds a sculptural character to the otherwise ordinary streetscape in Tokyo. Inside, the curved outer walls suggest separate rooms without doors and partitions.