florian busch architects' minimalistic nobori building rises as a narrow slice in tokyo

florian busch architects' minimalistic nobori building rises as a narrow slice in tokyo

the compact nobori building stands tall in tokyo


Standing as a contemporary addition to the streetscape of Tokyo, the newly completed Nobori Building takes shape with architecture by locally-based studio Florian Busch Architects. The architects strategically position the residential building along a compact trapezoidal site, emphasizing its verticality and making the most of the limited space.


Drawing inspiration from the site’s historic context, the team looks to the humble Itsukushima shrine, which neighbors the site and reveals a rich heritage dating back to 1086. ‘Traversing the Kanto plains on the way to Mutsu, Minamoto no Yoshiie chose this location as temporary camp for his army,‘ explains Florian Busch, ‘The highest in the area, it was easy to spot any approaching danger — and had great views of Mt. Fuji. A year later, returning victoriously, Yoshiie laid the foundation for the shrine which still exists today.’

florian busch nobori buildingimages © Vincent Hecht | @vincenthecht.photography



rise and climb: a narrow footprint extruded upward


Led by Florian Busch, the architects faced the challenge of fitting the Nobori Building — with a restaurant and multiple apartments — within a footprint of just forty-eight square meters. The design response was driven by a straightforward yet innovative approach of extruding the building’s footprint as far upward as possible. This verticality becomes a canvas, allowing for the maximum use of limited space.

The name ‘Nobori’ was chosen long before the site existed. Meaning ‘to rise and climb,’ this name reflects the essence of the project. Addressing the spatial challenges, the team dissolved the typical ‘core’ devoted to circulation. Instead, the stairway is allowed to climb around the building’s periphery. ‘Entering the building from the street is like turning into one of Tokyo’s myriad back alleys,’ continues Florian Busch, ‘which are de-facto residential lobbies mediating between the scales of the city.’

florian busch nobori building
located in Shinjuku, Tokyo, the Nobori Building draws inspiration from the nearby Itsukushima shrine



the evolving facade by florian busch architects


While the Nobori Building may appear simple from the outside, Florian Busch Architects organizes a unique spatial experience along its interiors with the unconventional stairway. The generous height of the building allows for enough height for flexible, in-between zones bridging the stair-volume and slabs, fostering unexpected uses. The spatial ambiguity is expressed along the building’s facade. Leveraging the scale of the structure, the exterior skin carries the structural loads, allowing for a dynamic interplay between form and function. The facade has evolved over time, responding flexibly to various design constraints such as structure, views, sunlight, and ventilation. It becomes a visual representation of negotiation, where multiple elements compete for an optimum compromise.

florian busch nobori building
faced with a compact site of just forty-eight square meters, the architects boldly extrude the narrow footprint florian busch nobori building
verticality is maximized to accommodate a restaurant and multiple apartments florian busch architects' minimalistic nobori building rises as a narrow slice in tokyo
the name Nobori encapsulates the project’s essence of rising and climbing


dissolving conventional design norms, the stairway climbs around the structure’s periphery

florian busch architects' minimalistic nobori building rises as a narrow slice in tokyo
beyond its unassuming exterior, the interior reveals a spatial complexity with unexpected usages


situated in modern Tokyo, the project offers carefully curated view corridors that frame the vast city

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