Color Blocking: This shared housing building in Shinjuku features well-planned public and private spaces differentiated using different architectural details and serene colors

Project: Modelia Colors | Design: Ryuichi Sasaki / Sasaki Architecture + Rieko Okumura / Atelier O | Location: Tokyo, Japan | Photos: Takumi Ota

Located near universities and Shinjuku’s vibrant shopping streets, an old office building was successfully transformed into a colorful shared housing enclave. Residents occupy their own private bedrooms, but share common areas such as the kitchens and bathrooms.

“Shared housing has proliferated in Japan in recent years, primarily drawing residents who seek interaction with their coinhabitants as opposed to the cheaper rents that typically attract people to shared living arrangements in Western countries,” say the lead designers, Ryuichi Sasaki of Sasaki Architecture and Reiko Okumura from Atelier O. “For a project in this particular type of neighborhood we envisioned a harmonious, cultured environment in which individuals with similar interests and tastes would gather and inspire one another. The forms and colors of the building are designed to create opportunities for this type of interaction. We also gave particular consideration to the type of people who might gather and live there.”

Within the four-level buildings, each floor is divided to serve different purposes – first and second levels are designated private zones while the ground floor is primarily a public zone. For the third floor, the space is rented out as offices. From the entrance, the floor plan opens up to a well-thought configuration of public-private spaces.

“The circulation plan allows residents to access their own rooms without passing through the public zone, which means that they are able to choose between spending quiet time individually or interacting with other residents even though they are living in a shared house,” explain the designers.

Basic geometric forms take the lead in the interior, offset by circular-shaped furnishing and contemporary lighting fixtures. For the ground floor, the lounge is designed around a series of lines that connects different spaces. Here, the kitchen, dining area, shower room and shared spaces are created as interaction zones. There is also a large table for people to come together as well as windowside counters, low tables, sofas and a tatami mat area. Symbolizing a community-inspired environment, vertical, linear lights hang from the center of a ceiling covered in metal mesh.

Things brighten up on the upper floors where soothing palettes are employed. “On the first floor, which is close to the ground, green is the key color, while on the second, which is closer to the sky, it is blue,” the designers elaborate. “These differences, we hope, will allow potential residents to select a room near others who share similar tastes, loosely connecting them once they move in. However, in recognition of each residents’ individuality, the colors of the bedroom interiors and doors vary slightly in intensity, representing the differences that exist between individuals despite their similar tastes.”

6 thoughts on “Color Blocking: This shared housing building in Shinjuku features well-planned public and private spaces differentiated using different architectural details and serene colors

  1. jerry-prerichbillionaire

    thanks for the article Lily!

    it’s such an inspiring piece. loved the design in the pictures and the idea of multiple colours and themes being used to distinguish the different living and working spaces.

    this is something i’d be definitely looking to emulate in future!

    thanks again, and would even be great to visit this some day.


  2. Matt's Mom

    Wow, I LOVE this house. I love the design, I love the colors, I love it all! Especially the geometric design. I would imagine that this would need to be the way to go in Japan with the population as it is in such a small space. The simple colors and spaces are great. More of my look. I wish they did more of this type of design here in the United States.

  3. Stephen

    Hi Lily,

    What an inspiring and awesome house, in fact I don’t even know which which words to use in describing this beautiful elegant house. I love the design, the bed rooms, the lights, the colors, in fact anything about this house is great. What a building!

    Surely this is a type of house that I look forward to imitating it design in my my architectural plans and for sure this is a well spaced building, I surely look forward to building something similar in the future.

    Thanks a lot for sharing this very wonderful post with me.

  4. Dustin

    I’m always impressed with what a difference someone with a background in interior design can make. I’ve always been more of a numbers guy and less artsy, so I’m especially envious of this ability.

    My wife has a pretty good knac for this stuff as well and she’s considering making a career move and going into it. Do you have any recommendations for her? And good courses you know of or just anywhere to start getting into the industry?

  5. Valerie

    Wow! What a beautiful site! The designs are clean and very minimalist. It just goes to show great design can be simple, functional and exquisite. The light shades appear very tranquil. I really like that it provides for community and private spaces. The shared spaces will help reduce the carbon footprint. Great example of intelligent living!

  6. MAX

    Impressive article but the pictures were even more beautiful.
    i even had to take some pictures because i could not resist staring again.
    Whilst building in the future,this article is certainly something to consider for tips.
    I also like how colours are combined perfectly and how they blend with one another

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