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MARCH STUDIO IV: Tokyo study abroad / PROFESSOR dr brian R Sinclair / team: Zoe Lewis & Hayden Pattullo  FALL 2017

"XS" is a critique of Tokyo's live/work disconnect that uses adapted versions of existing architectural typologies of the city's residential realm to explore new atypical program mixes an experiment with higher intensities of adjacency. 

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tokyo's spatial negotiation

Tokyo has a unique urban character all its own. With notoriously irregular land division caused by complex land ownership dating back to the Edo period, as well as extreme land prices, and few legislative controls over planning, urban projects in Tokyo follow little overarching strategy or standards, and often face extreme adjacency conditions. Each project in this urban scape exemplifies a unique negotiation with its immediate context, with the broader set of patterns emerging across the broader urban scape.

This project firstly aims to codify these patterns by identifying the repeatable ways in which certain program types respond to certain scales and types of adjacency. One example of this is the "privacy pull" shown above, in which larger residential developments adjacent to larger-scale vehicular streets pull back to increase the threshold distance between them and the street.

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the live/work juxtaposition

One of the primary social and urban challenges facing Tokyo today is the harsh live/work division. Long work hours and intense urban sprawl mean most fathers have very little opportunity to be meaningfully involved in their family's lives, as home life is starkly physically and socially removed from work life. These factors also create a sharp cultural division between an extremely conservative work culture and expressive social after hours culture. XS attempts to address these harsh divisions by mixing working, playing, and living programs into a single site and finding greater usable intersectionality between them, while architecturally exploring the necessary physical threshold needed to separate them.


the residential streetscape

The varying adjacency challenges produced in the uncontrolled inner-city residential neighborhoods of Tokyo necessitates a series of formal and material strategies to mitigate threshold between public and private realms. Developments with more space, as seen in the "Privacy Pull," may be more concerned with subtracting form from the public realm and using more internalized material to face streets. On the other hand, many more high-density developments are more concerned with projecting form and material outwards in attempts to reappropriate adjacent public circulation (as seen above in the "Program Push." This project aims to explore some new material and formal methods of mitigating these challenging adjacencies between various programs in an extremely high-density configuration.

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Adapted formal & material typologies

XS reproduces a series of close-proximity, challenging adjacencies across a medium residential site in the outlying Tokyo neighborhood of Nippori. Using the base typologies of program push and privacy pull from existing residential neighborhoods, this project imagines two new typologies for negotiating new programmatic mixes of residential, light-industrial, social, and commercial spaces. These typologies utilize new formal and material logics such as the round subtraction (see below) and the permeable material facade (see below right) to manage different types of adjacency.

Layered thresholds & lighting

One of the main goals of the XS project is to speculate on the maximum density of commercial, residential, and light-industrial programs that can function together in Tokyo's residential spheres, and hence speculate on how architecture can extend the liminal spaces between living/working modes within minimal distances. This effect is attempted through soft boundaries such as the translucent Washi paper wall below, through strategically-lit curvilinear surfaces that minimize edges, through layered material assemblies in windows, doors, and walls, through extended visual/physical thresholds into indoor spaces, and through mitigating programs such as the private rooftop gardens that inhabitants pass through between their living units and workspaces.


Programmatic Mix

Taking cues from the textile manufacturing identity of the surrounding neighborhood, this development has a light-industrial artisan Washi paper manufacturing facility, as well as a Senbai cracker kitchen, and a food/paper sales dining area. These programs employ the local residents into a co-sharing living model, with various sizes and types of units available for local workers or other residents. This programmatic mix allows for local inhabitants to hold jobs and homes on-site, while children can attend nearby neighborhood schools and families/friends can make use of the public recreational and social facilities on-site.

North Elevation

North Elevation

East Elevation

East Elevation

West Elevation

West Elevation

South Elevation

South Elevation