Tsuyoshi Kobayashi @ another Apartment

 
Another Apartment_portrait.jpg

I met Tsuyoshi Kobayashi, the founder of another Apartment (aA), on a very cold Monday; half past six, 30 minutes late because of a missed bus. I was frantic with hands too cold to function. aA was tucked in between a corner building at an alley away from the main road. The building once renovated and occupied by Curiosity, a famous interior design studio, was now occupied by independent architectural offices. The space harbored both a historical connection and a contemporary drive.

I first came across aA on dezeen, who had previously featured his Park House project on the website. Tokyo, a growing hub for architecture enthusiasts, is no minor city when it comes to sheltering some of the most photogenic buildings. The quest to understand contemporary contributions made by local architects in Tokyo has persist. And I loosely assume I'm not alone. So what’s an artist got to do but ask?  

Another Apartment


NH
You have over 10 years of experience as a practicing architect. Can you share a little bit on how you began this journey? Where did it all start?

TK
I studied architecture as an undergrad student and somehow found myself studying it throughout grad school as well. To be honest, it wasn’t exactly school that brought me closer to architecture but a trip to Europe I took right after graduation. We went around London, Paris, and Rome. I was very inspired during that trip. Probably more so than I ever had been at school. My interest in architecture really grew from that point onward.

On my return to Tokyo, I took a job at Panasonic and was there for roughly 5 years. I soon took another 3 month long Euro-trip after that to recharge and came back to work at 2 different architectural firm before I decided to start my own.

I have a diverse pool of experience that has allowed me to see various facets within architecture and that has impacted the way I see it develop.

 
 
 Photography| Koichi Torimura

Photography| Koichi Torimura

NH
Who has influenced your work as an architect?

TK
Im a big fan of Peter Zumthor. MVRDV has been making a lot of interesting projects as of late. Santiago Calatrava. And Tezuka Architects.

NH
What is architecture to you?

TK
Everybody needs architecture. And we all live surrounded by different kinds of architecture. I see architecture as one vessel to life. Designing a home for people is not limited to aesthetics but really a gate to designing lifestyle. Ultimately the architect is responsible for shaping a certain kind of lifestyle for those inhabiting the space.

 
 
 Photography| Koichi Torimura

Photography| Koichi Torimura

NH
The Park House Project is an intriguing housing project. The simplistic exterior compliments the narrow site, which is a typical challenge in Tokyo. Can you please share the backstory to the making of the Park House Project?

TK
The Park House was a residential housing project for a couple in their 40s. They didn’t have children so the idea was centered around creating a flexible and comfortable place for 2 people. As the ground floor occupies both a garage and bathroom, I placed the master bedroom as well as the living room on the first floor, and the second floor works as a mezzanine loft for additional storage or a place to relax and take a nap.

The plot was rather small and in order to create some privacy from the neighbors while still bringing in light into the house, I enclosed three faces of the house and installed a glass façade in the front with a supplementary skylight on the roof.  There was a park across from the house, which I really wanted to incorporate into the architecture. I designed the house in a way where when inside you felt as if the space expanded into the park.
 

 
 
 Photography| Koichi Torimura

Photography| Koichi Torimura


NH
The design of the Park House is simplistic in form but I thought there were a lot of hidden delights such as the way you combined materials. How did you choose your materials for this project?

TK
I wanted to keep everything simple so that was an underlying theme throughout the concept phase. The stairs are actually steel panels cladded in wood.  The concrete used on the ground floor was to blur the outside and the beginning of the inside. But everything else, I wanted to just keep as simple as possible. The reason for this simplicity is to highlight the park across the house and incorporate the park's landscape into the everyday life of the couple. 
 

 
 
 Photography| Koichi Torimura

Photography| Koichi Torimura

NH
Can you share some of your challenges in designing the Park House?

TK
The challenges I faced for this project was mainly technical. The structure of the house itself was made with wood so we had to figure out a way to fit the window of that size securely. I worked closely with a structural engineer to figure that one out. We pre-fabricated the structural frame in a factory and had it delivered to the house so it was quite an operation.

NH
Thank you! I hope you enjoyed sharing as much as I enjoyed asking.