hiroyuki ito architects' tenjincho place is a curving slice of nature in tokyo

hiroyuki ito architects' tenjincho place is a curving slice of nature in tokyo

tenjincho place: a green retreat tucked away in tokyo

 

Japanese studio Hiroyuki Ito Architects has recently unveiled Tenjincho Place, a new apartment complex in Tokyo‘s Bunkyo ward. The building sits on the edge of a plateau in Yushima, overlooking the approach to a renowned shrine. This rapidly developing area has seen a significant shift in recent years, with hotels being replaced by apartment complexes. The studio’s design addresses two key challenges presented by the site — the plot’s unusual shape and the limited natural light due to surrounding high-rises.
hiroyuki ito architects' tenjincho place is a curving slice of nature in tokyoimages © Masao Nishikawa

 

 

the courtyard apartment complex by hiroyuki ito

 

The centerpiece of Tenjincho Place is its central courtyard, which Hiroyuki Ito Architects designed to ensure a light-filled atmosphere. A three-pronged approach was implemented to ensure a sense of light and openness. First, the architects minimized the number of corridors flanking the courtyard. By converting corridor ends into two-story maisonette units, they effectively reduced the corridors’ footprint and minimized shadow formation.

 

Next, the design incorporates side openings facing the courtyard, creating balconies for both residences and common areas. These openings allow light and air to enter the space from multiple directions. Finally, the team employed a unique textural treatment for the 30-meter (98-foot) high courtyard walls. By using unconventional materials for the formwork, they aimed to achieve a linear yet irregular appearance that enhances the perception of even the slightest light filtering into the space. The courtyard is designed with the potential for engagement with the public, with uses including a co-working area, a cafe, or a market.

hiroyuki ito tenjincho place
the new apartment complex in Tokyo addresses challenges of a curved plot and limited natural light

 

 

supporting sustainable forestry practices

 

The formwork for the central courtyard incorporates a sustainable design element. It is constructed from Japanese cedar logs sourced from the Wooden Station Project in Sammu City, Chiba. This initiative aims to support healthy forests by acquiring thinned wood and forest residue from local owners. The forestry industry has recently faced challenges due to fungal diseases, which weaken and permanently mar trunks. By finding value in these materials, Hiroyuki Ito Architects sought to contribute to sustainable forestry practices.

hiroyuki ito tenjincho place
Hiroyuki Ito Architects designed a central courtyard as the centerpiece of the complex

 

 

During construction, the logs were sliced into thin sections, retaining the bark on one side, and then affixed to plywood to create the formwork. This technique transferred the organic shapes and textures of the logs onto the concrete, resulting in a courtyard with a captivating interplay of light and shadow. The resulting texture evokes the image of a church in ruins, adding depth and character to an imposing space. The central courtyard is designed to provide residents and future visitors with a welcome respite from the urban environment.

hiroyuki ito tenjincho place
to improve lighting, corridors flanking the courtyard are minimized and replaced with maisonette unit

hiroyuki-ito-architects-tenjincho-place-apartment-complex-japan-designboom-05a

balconies facing the courtyard allow light and air to enter the space from various directions

hiroyuki ito architects' tenjincho place is a curving slice of nature in tokyo
a unique textural treatment on the courtyard walls enhances the perception of even faint light

hiroyuki-ito-architects-tenjincho-place-apartment-complex-japan-designboom-07a

the courtyard is currently for residents only, but future plans include transforming it into a public space

 

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project info:

 

project title: Tenjincho Apartment Complex

architecture: Hiroyuki Ito Architects

location: Tokyo, Japan

lead architects: Hiroyuki Ito, Junko Uehara
structural engineer: Shuji Tada Structural Consultant
contractor: Sanyu Keusetsu

completion: 2023

photography: © Masao Nishikawa | @nishikawa.masao

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