'Reflection of Mineral' House Proves Urban Design is Hard
Tokyo, Japan, is a centuries-old city that intriguingly blends traditional and modern styles in its urban design. Charming wooden restaurants, generic office blocks and buildings that go beyond eclectic stand shoulder to shoulder while wasting nary an inch of precious real estate. The unique 'Reflection of Mineral' house by architect Yasuhiro Yamashita perfectly illustrates this design conundrum: make it interesting, but make it fit!
Set on a quiet street corner in downtown Tokyo's Nakano ward, the house features a minimalist design that nonetheless expands to take in every bit of available space. Yamashita found himself with a mere 44.62 square meters (about 480 sq ft) of land to work with - not much at all!
To quote Yamashita, "conforming to legal conditions and in response to the client's wish for a 'roofed garage' the volume was trimmed from various directions." Yamashita goes on to say that "Minerals and Reflection are keywords that help turn the negative factor of elimination into a positive one."
The net result resembles a natural crystal or a mathematical polyhedron that, by its very nature, takes up the maximum allowable volume within a preordained space. The house is fully functional and includes a kitchen and a third floor "bathroom box" finished in polished stainless steel.
The house's salient feature, however, is the ground level covered carport that seamlessly fits in with the overall design, as opposed to many typical homes in which the garage appears as just an add-on.
Yasuhiro Yamashita founded the design firm Atelier TEKUTO in 1991 and currently employs 12 staff members. Several notable buildings in the Tokyo area bear the characteristic stamp of Atelier TEKUTO, as does the recently completed (2007) Busan Eco Center in South Korea.