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.”