‘tower machiya’ by atelier bow-wow in shinjuku, tokyo, japan all images courtesy atelier bow-wow




‘tower machiya’ by japanese studio atelier bow-wow is a four-storey residential project in shinjuku, tokyo. sitting on a plot that has just enough space for a single car, the design borrows elements of a ‘machiya’ (traditional wooden communal residence in japan) but is stretched up into a tower form to claim as much living space as possible. the clients, who are fervent practitioners of tea ceremony, also desired that the house be equipped with a tea room, one that was spacious enough to accommodate a teaching environment in the future.


because the building is limited both in terms of frontage and depth, the spaces within are negotiated on a vertical axis. by placing the tea room on the top floor, the staircase acts as a ‘garden’, or a pathway for guests to be led up to the room. the arrangement of the staircase also defines the rest of the living space, which offshoot in fragments and are integrated through a rhythmic arrangement of steel beams and columns. in line with the aesthetics of the machiya, the ground floor facade is lined with a set of wooden louvers. netted steel frames provide small but sufficient balconies of 45 cm depth at each level of the house.

atelier bow wow: tower machiya (left) facade, day (right) facade, night

atelier bow wow: tower machiya (left) ground level living space (right) washroom

atelier bow wow: tower machiya views of the tea room

atelier bow wow: tower machiya (clockwise from top left) second level, third level, washroom on second level, interior of tea room