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Project type: Multi-family Condominium Structure


Location: Tokyo, Japan


Time: 2010


The AO-Project, a condominium in Tokyo, is an example of our approach to developing a design from internal and external parameters rather than according to preconceived notions of typology, visual language, or style. The project developed naturally in an evolutionary process, during which we designed the rules of interaction between specific parameters, rather than the object itself.


The overall appearance of the building is the result of a combination of prescribed urban codes on building setbacks and solar overshadowing, the maximum leasable area, and the iconic image of Japanese mountains. In response to these parameters, we created a luscious living hill in a dense urban section of Tokyo. The green hill on top of the building spills down the facades and connects the structure to the surrounding streets. The AO-Project will therefore change continually with the seasons, an aspect that is highly valued in Japan. The entrance is via a so-called “porte-cochere” that penetrates the building like a tunnel connecting the street to the main lobby and turning upwards into an atrium to emerge onto the landscaped roof above. This formal device creates a public space that connects all six floors above ground, introducing a dramatic funnel of light into the building. The atrium ensures that all residential floors are naturally lit, and illuminates the basement floor. From beneath, one has a clear view of the sky from all levels. This play of light continues at night with a constellation of pinpoints of light reflecting off the glass panelling.

The motif of a green hill within the almost completely sealed urban environment of Tokyo is additionally informed by sustainability parameters. The atrium brings natural light and air deep into the building, reducing the need for artificial light and mechanical ventilation. A twin-skin glass façade protects it against peak temperatures and, in conjunction with a geothermal system, provides energy-efficient building climate control. Similarly, the green roof is part of the building’s water system, collecting and retaining water, and using grey water solutions for irrigation. The roof has its own domestic fauna, and butterflies enjoy the olfactory sensation of rosemary and thyme as much as the residents. This not only serves to cool down the building, but also the immediate urban vicinity.


The formal language of the building shifts progressively from the organic shapes of the public realm and the crystalline atrium to the more private and traditional pattern of rectilinear spaces in Japanese houses.

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