schemata architects uplifts public bathhouse in tokyo with soft green tiles

schemata architects uplifts public bathhouse in tokyo with soft green tiles

renovated Komaeyu public bathhouse by schemata architects 

 

Nestled in the suburbs of Tokyo, Komaeyu is the second public bathhouse renovation undertaken by Japanese studio Schemata Architects. Sporting a soft green tile backdrop, the project also features a sauna and reception / seating area where beer is offered to visitors. Bathhouses originally sprang up in Japan’s Kanto Region, especially after World War II, when baths were not part of the household, to improve public sanitation. At that time, Mount Fuji was painted on the walls of many ‘sento’ (bathhouses in Japanese) as a symbol of hope, while the daily routine of public bathing connected the local community.

 

However, more than half a century later, these communal spaces have become obsolete as every household began incorporating a bath, and showering in the morning has become a common practice borrowed from Western culture. ‘Of course, some customers come to the bathhouse as part of their daily routine even though they have a bath at home, but this is not enough to carry on the bathhouse business to the next generation, and recently, bathhouses have been disappearing from the city in the blink of an eye,’ comments lead architect Jo Nagasaka 

schemata architects bathhouse designboom
all images © Ju Yeon Lee, courtesy  Schemata Architects / Jo Nagasaka

 

 

a green tile-clad space in tokyo to bathe, enjoy a drink & gather

 

Komaeyu was one such example of a fading public bathhouse, but the owner, Mr. Nishikawa, wanted to preserve that space, deciding to manage it himself as the successor. He sought inspiration from Koganeyu, the first public bathhouse renovation undertaken by Schemata Architects (see more here); there, in the hope of offering a little extra refreshment, the studio provided a sauna and a ‘bandai’ (reception counter) where visitors can drink beer, in addition to the main bath facilities. The studio ultimately incorporated that same program into the Komaeyu facility. ‘Since the location is only a 30-minute walk or a 15-minute train ride from where I live, I took on the design as if it were my go-to bathhouse and community,‘ notes Nagasaka.

schemata architects bathhouse designboom
Komaeyu public bathhouse features a reception counter

 

 

Like Koganeyu, the Komaeyu public bathhouse is originally part of a reinforced concrete structure with living spaces on the upper floors. Given its suburban context, many vacant lots are sited nearby, and Schemata Architects decided to take advantage of that available space, envisioning how one of these lots would intertwine with culverts that have turned into green spaces over time, creating a public bathhouse that would incorporate such greenery, along with cozy saunas and a bar. With the public bathhouse at the back, and an existing pub run by the owner’s aunt at the front of the building, the renovated Komaeyu connects the baths and eating areas with the bar and bandai surrounding it. The vacant lot adjacent to the bathhouse has turned into a gathering place where people can enjoy a drink after a bath. 

schemata architects bathhouse designboom
entrance to the baths

 

 

Binding this new design are custom-made original green tiles from Tajimi to create an affinity with the greenery. At certain points, the studio engraved a Mount Fuji pattern on the wall, alluding to that historic symbol of hope. ‘Recalling my favorite experiences of vaguely gazing at the patchwork of tiles in old public bathhouses in Kyoto and other cities and gradually feeling a sense of incongruity and the ‘aha’ moment when I recognized the patterns of the different tiles, I wanted to do something similar. We made the custom tiles in 47x47mm, 97x97mm, and 47x97mm square sizes and arranged them in ways to alternate as subtly as possible,’ continues Nagasaka

 

In less than a month since its opening in April 2023, Komaeyu is gradually becoming a community hub, reclaiming the role of a public bathhouse as an integral part of the local community. For context, Schemata Architects began the renovations in March 2023.  

schemata architects bathhouse designboom
using custom-made original green tiles from Tajimi

schemata architects bathhouse designboom
reviving the communal culture of these types of facilities

komaeyu-public-bathhouse-schemata-architects-tokyo-designboom-full-3

schemata architects uplifts public bathhouse in tokyo with soft green tiles
Schemata Architects designed the space as if it were Joe Nagasaka’s go-to public bathhouse

schemata architects bathhouse designboom
locker room

komaeyu-public-bathhouse-schemata-architects-tokyo-designboom-full-4

 

1/10
sauna area
sauna area
1
 
1
 
the reception area offers a place to gather after/before bathing
the reception area offers a place to gather after/before bathing
1
 
seating at the entrance
seating at the entrance
serving beer on tap
serving beer on tap
1
 
1
 
the public bathhouse opened on April 2023
the public bathhouse opened on April 2023

project info:

 

name: Komaeyu

location: 1-12-6 Higashiizumi, Komaeshi, Tokyo

architect: Schemata Architects / Jo Nagasaka | @schemataarchitects

project team: Shota Miyashita, Takuya Enta
graphic designer: village®︎
structural consultant: ladderup architects
construction: TANK (architecture), Sankyo Corporation (water works),
Toyama tile LLC. (tile works), Thermarivm (sauna)

kitchen: HOSHIZAKI

tiling: X’S Corporation

sound plan: WHITELIGHT

photography: Ju Yeon Lee@juyeonlee
total floor area: 994.64 sqm

completion date: March 2023

opening date: April 2023

KEEP UP WITH OUR DAILY AND WEEKLY NEWSLETTERS
suscribe on designboom
- see sample
- see sample
suscribe on designboom

ARCHITECTURE IN TOKYO (311)

RENOVATION ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN (726)

SCHEMATA ARCHITECTS / JO NAGASAKA (82)

PRODUCT LIBRARY

a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

designboom will always be there for you

milan, new york, beijing, tokyo,  since 1999
X
5