This four-storey housing project called Stir by Ryu Mitarai & Associates is located in a narrow Tokyo alley with an overhead railway track where trains run past every minute. In addition, the site is also located close to the ongoing road-widening works. As such, it presented a unique scenario to the architects, surrounded by three different environments.
“I thought of an architecture that aligns with the environment while reacting to the different scales, distance, speed, sound, and brightness,” says project architect Ryu Mitarai.
The building has shops on the first floor and private residences on the second to fourth floors. On the first floor, there is a Japanese restaurant for which a temporary entrance is set up in an alley for two years, and when the planned roadworks are completed, it will get another entrance and that side will become another face and open up to the town and its people. In addition, the housing part has a large volume while creating a floor to the maximum capacity, so that the terrace and the stairwell are integrated into a single entity that originates outside.
For the four slabs stacked in this way, the stairs are turned around the entire site as if they knead (steer) the inside and outside. As you walk along the alley, the stairs emerge as an extension, diving into the building as if glancing over the elevated tracks, and further round and round the inside and into the building.
These moving stairs create a place that matches the surrounding environment while compressing and relaxing the space. It captures the movements of people and establishes the signs of the people. It has the scale of the skeleton of a city somewhere away from people, while being at the centre of life. That encouraged the discovery of the place and thought that it would lead to the richness of living here.
In addition, the signs of the residents are spread through the alleys in the form of stairs. It will be a manifestation of the city’s participation in neighborhoods, which leads to private houses opening eaves, turning porches and arranging potted plants. The terraces created by the stairs that go up as if to push the building open, shed light and wind into the dark cul-de-sac and create a new typology of living.
In this way, the buildings that stand up in response to the environment are slowly moving around the city, with the aim of forging more connections among the residents of the building and the neighbourhood.
Architects: Ryu Mitarai & Associates, Architects
Year of completion: 2018
Photographs: Kai Nakamura
Architect-in-charge: Ryu Mitarai
Design team: Ryu Mitarai & Associates, Architects
Structural engineer: Hiraiwa Structural Design
Engineering and construction: IKEDAKOUMUTEN Company Limited
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Photos: Kai Nakamura
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