K+S architects fronts home-office in japan with textured concrete evoking geological layers

K+S architects fronts home-office in japan with textured concrete evoking geological layers

Shinjuku SOHO: a company HQ doubling as a private residence

 

Shinjuku SOHO is a newly completed property tucked within Ushigome Hara-cho, at the midpoint between Shinjuku and Iidabashi in Japan. Completed by Kashima Sato (K+S) Architects, the building spans five floors above ground and combines the functions of a company headquarters with those of a residence, all wrapped in reinforced concrete. ‘Reflecting the unique lifestyle of working around the clock without a clear boundary between professional and private life, the current plan involves a building where the line between workspace and living space is blurred,’ explains the studio.

 

While relatively large, the company established a work-from-home culture long before the pandemic struck, with occasional face-to-face meetings. In light of that practice, the design called for the integration of a typical residence and a flexible program that could serve as a workplace, a home, and even a media studio when needed. That being said, it was crucial to exhibit a building oozing a ‘strong’ personality and presence, as it represented the company’s headquarters.

 

Structurally, the vertical property echoes the high-rise apartment buildings lining the Okubo Avenue. While modernity made its way generously into the urban fabric, the area still preserves elements of the Edo period. Once a samurai residence and temple land, Ushigome Hara-cho still houses small, longstanding printing shops and traditional houses that maintain the charm of the old downtown. Coupled with the existing, scattered temple forests nearby, a steady contrast gently unfolds between old and new, built and green. 

K+S architects fronts home-office in japan with textured concrete evoking geological layers
all images © Hiroshi Ueda

 

 

K+S Architects creates a quarry-like design with setbacks

 

With a road width of four meters and a building height restricted to three stories, K+S Architects (see more here) found a workaround to expand the sense of space. Maximizing height, the architects incorporated setbacks on both sides of the building, creating the impression of looking up at the sky from the narrow front road. These block-like setbacks reinforce Shinjuku SOHO’s robust presence amid a tightly packed neighborhood context.

 

Maintaining this robust quality, the studio opted for an architectural form beyond modern features. The final design alludes to a structure that withstands the test of time, almost alluding to a geological timeline. More specifically, the headquarters recall a quarry or an archeological site, with the road-facing facade revealing a rough-texture concrete layer that evokes sedimentary layers. K+S used a special formwork to craft the striated pattern. ‘Trees were integrated three-dimensionally onto these layers to evoke a natural, layered appearance with greenery growing on top,’ shares the studio. The other three sides facing neighboring houses are packed with external insulation, while the interior spaces arise from a concrete structure. 

K+S architects fronts home-office in japan with textured concrete evoking geological layers
Shinjuku SOHO, a newly completed property tucked within Ushigome Hara-cho

 

 

a five-story property in japan where work & living gently blur

 

With a floor area of slightly over 34 square meters, Shinjuku SOHO includes a staircase and an elevator, with the remaining space dedicated to living and working areas. The architects envisioned the program with a studio on the first floor, the main office space on the second, a private bedroom on the third, a combined dining and kitchen space on the fourth, and a workspace and relaxation area at the very top (5th floor). Only the third level is kept entirely private.

 

The double-height spaces on the first and second floors hold large openings that frame views of people moving about the town from the inside and, conversely, opening up glimpses into the home-office interior from the road, encouraging interaction with passersby. ‘By lowering the first-floor level by 80 centimeters from the road, we established an appropriate sense of distance from the town,’ notes K+S Architects.

 

The main office space takes shape on the second floor, at the rear, through the double-height void, endowing it with an expansive quality. Meanwhile, The third level hosts a private space with vertically aligned windows that extend to the fourth floor and strategically placed wall surfaces to maintain privacy and a unified facade appearance. Last but not least, the fifth-story relaxation area features horizontal windows to provide elevated views of surrounding buildings, offering distant urban vistas and the nearby greenery of shrines.

K+S architects fronts home-office in japan with textured concrete evoking geological layers
rough-textured concrete facade evoking geological layers

 

 

Moreover, each floor is divided by staircase rooms, potentially weakening the connection between floors. To address this issue, floors were raised or turned into stair-like structures, enhancing the perception of interconnected spaces between floors. Variations in ceiling height and floor levels were introduced to divide the small spaces further, creating several distinct areas. The floors serve as benches, tables, and beds, with the arrangements intended to provoke human interactions. With a forward-looking approach, the hope is for the building to remain sustainable and adaptable to societal changes in the future,’ concludes K+S Architects. 

K+S architects fronts home-office in japan with textured concrete evoking geological layers
studio on the first floor

soho-house-ks-architects-designboom-full-4

K+S architects fronts home-office in japan with textured concrete evoking geological layers
double-height ceiling on the first floor

K+S architects fronts home-office in japan with textured concrete evoking geological layers
fifth-floor lounge with stepped area

soho-house-ks-architects-designboom-full-1

K+S architects fronts home-office in japan with textured concrete evoking geological layers
kitchen and dining area on the fourth floor

K+S architects fronts home-office in japan with textured concrete evoking geological layers
private bedroom on the third floor

soho-house-ks-architects-designboom-full

 

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view of the bathroom from the bedroom area
view of the bathroom from the bedroom area
night time view of the facade
night time view of the facade
staircase
staircase
K+S architects fronts home-office in japan with textured concrete evoking geological layers
 
K+S architects fronts home-office in japan with textured concrete evoking geological layers
 

project info:

 

name: Shinjuku SOHO

location: Ushigome Hara-cho, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo

architecture studio: K+S Architects @kashima_sato_architects

structure: Wada Construction 

photographer: Hiroshi Ueda

site area: 59.77 sqm 

built area: 34.32 sqm 

total floor area: 150.63 sqm

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