Complied by Leah Linhares
Photography: Takumi Ota; Courtesy the architect
In the midst of a packed neighbourhood, Tomoyuki Kurokawa Architects give the Tokyo Institute of Technology a Silicon-Valley-touch that assists in developing a synergistic cycle among the community…
Seeing potential in the client’s wish: to give Tokyo’s national university a replica of the Silicon Valley education-business model, Tomoyuki Kurokawa Architects design and build a community-driven architectural complex that is open and interactive.
Situated within the shopping district near the university, the six-storey asymmetrical structure of reinforced concrete stands tall among a cluster of residential buildings. Comprising the client's company office, shared-room style student residences and residences for the staff members and the client, the shape of Kitasenzoku Apartment is derived from meticulous planning to distinguish it from the neighbouring buildings. While the size of the building was defined by the functional requisites of the residences and users, its form incorporates hollowed scoop-outs that act as interstitial spaces and serve as balconies to the exterior.
Opening to the street is the entrance hall situated along the town street, serving as its extended passageway and opened to the city so that the open area can be used as a lecture space for the students or as a casual drop-by space for any of the city residents.
Completed with benches, lighting and plants to create an atmosphere of the street outside, its walls are anointed with a whiteboard paint finish to promote the day’s casual and academic discussions among students and staff. Privacy for the students is maintained by providing a tunnel-like space behind the staircase.
The architectural complex is highlighted by its undefined form – with no clear and distinguishable front or back side of the building. Also, although it looms large in the neighbourhood, its impact is comfortably adjusted by the sense of openness created by the balconies on all elevations.
Built with the intention to focus on the relationships among people, Kitasenzoku Apartment aims to develop an intimate communication between the residents, students and community as a whole.