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There is a tendency among

European architects to
experiment with varying
silhouettes. In the UK one
thinks of the emerging work of
Caruso St John and Sergison
Bates, while more widely across
continental Europe buildings by
Studio Granda (AR July 1992),
Gigon + Guyer (AR June 2004),
and Herzog & de Meuron (AR
August 2003) have derived new,
distinctive and highly specic
forms that have avoided the lure
of bling and blob. Since the mid
1990s, in opposition to High Tech
and POMO, traditional pitch roof
forms and restrained Swiss boxes
began to morph in response to
site and programme. Articulated
in detail with intricate tectonics,
and through formal distortion
torsion and twists, architectural
nip and tuck typologies slowly
evolved. While space and material

HOUSE , T OKYO
ARCHITECT
JUN A OKI

remained key considerations,


it was the search for form that
prevailed as the main concern,
and with a pulled vector here,
an elongated ridge there,
exaggerated forms emerged.
Strangely familiar, yet dramatically
new, a form of abstract postmodernism brought a new play
on architectural simile its like
a barn, an oast house, but with a
twist. In Japan, a similar tendency
is emerging.
With earthquake regulations
enforcing a minimum 500mm
gap between adjacent
properties, densely packed
urban neighbourhoods have
made the detached home one of
the countrys most widespread
architectural types, considered
by many architects to be one of
Japans cultural treasures. So it
is no surprise that an emerging
generation of architects is

bringing new interest to this area


of specialism, with architects
such as Yoshiharu Tsukamoto
carrying out extensive research
into the rhetoric and spatial
composition of postwar housing.
In this eld, Jun Aoki is also a
serious contributor, shown here
with G House, a contemporary
abstraction of a traditional
timber-framed pitched-roof
detached house. Situated in a
residential district of central
Tokyo, G House is a rendered
house set on top of a reinforcedconcrete podium. With internal
spaces conforming to this
formal division, living, dining and
entertaining spaces are contained
within the concrete podium, with
attic bedrooms above. With no
distinction between wall and
roof, the distorted attic form
could certainly be described as
a contrived, compelling object,

location plan (scale 1:600)

ATTIC LIGHT
Through the careful distortion
of familiar forms, Jun Aokis
latest Tokyo house makes the
ordinary extraordinary.

1
Jun Aokis G House comprises a
timber-framed attic set above a
concrete plinth.
2
Internally the attic has a complex
arrangement of interlocking
spaces, lit by an irregular
arrangement of skylights.

63 | 9

closet

3
The central atrium
connects living
rooms with the
mezzanine study,
from where the
uppermost loftlike bedroom is
accessed via stair.
Direct and reflected
light plays on the
attics angular
surfaces.

2
3

8
west elevation (street entrance)

east elevation (rear)

long section

HOUSE , T OKYO
ARCHITECT
JUN A OKI

south elevation

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

short section

parking
kitchen
living/dining
childs bedroom
study
bedroom
bath
cellar

north elevation

closetcloset closet closet

3
6
7

bath bath bath bath

64 | 9

ground floor plan (scale approx 1:140)

plan through horizontal void

first floor plan

second floor plan

bath

4
The uppermost
bedroom sits at
the apex of the
attic.
5
Where timber
meets concrete,
an interstitial
void is expressed
as a continuous
datum.
6
Oblique views
from the
mezzanine study
connect spaces
via the atrium
screen.
7
With the
double-height
atrium and
mezzanine
adjacent to one
another, the full
height of the
lofty attic form
is exploited to
maximum effect.

HOUSE , T OKYO
ARCHITECT
JUN A OKI

66 | 9

(see Peter Buchanan, AR August


2005), not dissimilar in form
to Pradas angular prism (AR
August 2003). Here, however,
justication for the derivation of
form is attributed to traditional
formal types and to specic
site constraints, with the subtle
inections in plan reecting the
tapering plot, and a recognition
of adjacent building heights
producing dramatic distortions
in elevation. Furthermore,
adhering to good old-fashioned
Modernist truth-to-form, the
internal volume reects the
external form, with lofty voids,
passageways and bedrooms
creating a complex series of
interlocking spaces. The spatial
complexity resonates externally,
with an apparently random
arrangement of timber sash
windows that sit proud of the
rendered surface, creating
a pattern that subverts any
recognition of oor levels, shifts
our perception of scale, and

increases the forms sculptural


signicance. The resultant form
is bold and distinctive and is
further modelled by a re-entrant
corner cutout, set directly above
the sunken entrance court.
Internally the passage of light
has been carefully orchestrated
with the attic form serving as
an enormous skylight for the
podium beneath. Two voids help
achieve this; a central doubleheight atrium that serves as the
focus of the house connecting
living spaces with a mezzanine
work study, and more curiously a
horizontal void, 770mm high, that
articulates the structural division
between concrete basement and
timber frame; a continuously
expressed interstitial datum
that lies coincident with the
re-entrant cutout. Light lls
the spaces, and set against
the cool interiors that are
dominated by white walls, timber
softs and concrete structure,
Aokis interest in decorative

ornamentation (most overtly


expressed in his work for Louis
Vuitton, AR November 2004) is
also evident, demonstrating some
of his more quirky inuences.
These include the use of silk
and lace in bedroom curtains,
traditionally used to make
kimonos, and ock wallpaper, as
featured in George Cukors 1964
lm My Fair Lady; the wallpaper
being applied with restraint to
feature walls in the living room,
easily changeable, he explains, as
tastes change.
Built to a high specication, the
budget of this house represented
an equal split between land and
construction, with the relatively
high construction costs funding
the big concrete basement, which
has a large cellar and ne nishes
throughout. ROB GREGORY

Site area 106.75sqm Floor area 154.98sqm


Architect
Jun Aoki (Tokyo?)
Photographs
Edmund Sumner/VIEW