situated amid the urban fabric of tokyo, japan, frontoffice has introduced the ‘m house’, a three-storey building that combines the design of a dance studio, a living area and a yoga space. with this project, the practice aimed to revive the experimental and creative local architectural activity of 1960s, when the city was expanding. 

tokyo redux 1

fitting into crowded space in tokyo

all images by toshiyuki yano, frontoffice



the design for ‘m house’ by frontoffice is primitive, almost cartoonish – a fitting approach for the clients, who design and sell a series of famously mysterious and unique dolls with a global following. making full use of tokyo’s rules and regulations, the structure maximizes space and volume on a typically constrained urban site, resulting in a simple plan – three single rooms, stacked one upon the other.

tokyo redux 3
dance studio half submerged within the site



the ground floor houses the dance studio, and is buffered from the road by a reflective aluminum screen, and otherwise opened to its surroundings by continuous windows and mirrors. dancers on this level, which is partially submerged in the sloping site, feel like they are a part of the city, not isolated. the residential space on the second floor is accessed by steel stairs with an exaggerated landing acting as a porch. this level is also accessible through an interior staircase hidden behind a mirrored door. 

tokyo redux 4
entrance to the studio beneath the stairs to the second floor



windows are placed economically to offer depth and light in an otherwise small area. no attempt is made to frame views because the city does not rest for long and views are fleeting. the garden and decks work with the interior to offer an un-mediated experience of the city. formal experimentation is often lost in the chaos of tokyo but with this project, the architects are aknowledging the start of a new period of massive change, the time to engage with the city more directly. 

tokyo redux 5
stairs to the second floor are hidden behind a mirrored door

tokyo redux 6
hidden stairs connect dance studio into the home

tokyo redux 7
living space begins on the second floor

tokyo redux 8
bedroom and workspace with ladder to rooftop

tokyo redux 9
parking and entrance straight from the road

tokyo redux 10
entrance to the home is on the second floor

tokyo redux 2
in the 1960s and 1970s tokyo was wildly inventive

tokyo redux 11
tokyo’s crowded context

tokyo redux 12
section – the house is surrounded on all sides by porous surfaces to mitigate the ever more common problem of guerilla storms in the city




project info:


name: m house
architecture office: frontoffice
project team: will galloway, koen klinkers, christopher sjoberg, with frank la riviere
structural design: tatsumi terado structural




designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom