designed by kenzo tange, a pioneering figure of modern japanese architecture, the ‘sogetsu kaikan’ building in central tokyo is characterized by a half-mirrored curtain wall that reflects its surrounding context. within this 1970s structure, design studio nendo has completed both an office and a café that clearly reference the building’s external aesthetics.

nendo aoyama office connel coffee cafe kenzo tange sogetsu kaikan tokyo designboom
the café frames views of the adjacent korekiyo takahashi memorial park
(above) image by takumi ota
(main) image by daici ano

 

 

situated on the second floor, the café frames views of the adjacent korekiyo takahashi memorial park, as well as a stone garden created by american artist isamu noguchi. the walls and ceiling of the existing space have been left untouched, with only the floor and furniture redesigned, unifying the bi-partitioned volume.

nendo aoyama office connel coffee cafe kenzo tange sogetsu kaikan tokyo designboom
the glass walls and ceiling of the existing space have been left untouched
image by takumi ota

 

 

the countertops have been finished in a gloss black matching the grey mirror finish of the ceiling. in the lounge area, original tulip chairs by eero saarinen have been repaired for reuse with a new matte black finish. the accompanying tables have also been restored, with their surfaces fitted with the same mirrored material as the ceiling.

nendo aoyama office connel coffee cafe kenzo tange sogetsu kaikan tokyo designboom
the countertops have been finished in a gloss black matching the mirrored finish of the ceiling
image by takumi ota

 

 

 

the café is chiefly managed by nendo and is named ‘connel’; a play on the japanese word ‘koneru’, meaning ‘to knead’ or ‘to mold’. the emblem has been designed by taking the ‘n’ from the nendo logo and bending it to form two ‘c’s. similarly, the handles on the original mugs have been bent by hand, giving the vessels a unique shape. made from tin, the stirring sticks have been designed to stand upright, while the material choice ensures that they gradually soften and change their form with continued use.

nendo aoyama office connel coffee cafe kenzo tange sogetsu kaikan tokyo designboom
original tulip chairs by eero saarinen have been repaired for reuse with a new matte black finish
image by daici ano

 

 

above, the office’s layout been designed to align with the building’s angular floor plans, while the external curtain wall has been replicated internally. ‘we experimented widely with a variety of IR reflecting and paints in order to precisely recreate the coloring of the original half-mirrored exterior and sashes,’ explains nendo. in order to accentuate the effect of the reflection, the flooring has been fitted symmetrically in direct relation to the wall.

nendo aoyama office connel coffee cafe kenzo tange sogetsu kaikan tokyo designboom
the office’s layout been designed to align with the building’s angular floor plans
image by takumi ota

nendo aoyama office connel coffee cafe kenzo tange sogetsu kaikan tokyo designboom
the external curtain wall has been replicated internally
image by daici ano

nendo aoyama office connel coffee cafe kenzo tange sogetsu kaikan tokyo designboom
the flooring has been fitted symmetrically in direct relation to the curtain wall
image by takumi ota

nendo aoyama office connel coffee cafe kenzo tange sogetsu kaikan tokyo designboom
lighting is integrated within the ceiling panels
image by takumi ota

nendo aoyama office connel coffee cafe kenzo tange sogetsu kaikan tokyo designboom
image by takumi ota

nendo aoyama office connel coffee cafe kenzo tange sogetsu kaikan tokyo designboom
the office design is a direct response to the building’s existing architecture 
image by takumi ota

nendo aoyama office connel coffee cafe kenzo tange sogetsu kaikan tokyo designboom
more intimate offices offer sweeping external views
image by takumi ota