Rebuild Project of a Residential Building on a Small Site of Tokyo Adds Value and Adaptation to Variety of Lifestyle

The project consists of a rebuild of a residential building on a small site of Tokyo *KIBA. For adaptation of a variety of lifestyles, and to provide added value to the building, the firm designed multiple spaces using maisonnette-style housing as exceptional cases to the building standard law. Additionally, the firm attempted to balance the building in harmony with the historic site of KIBA, known for its lumber dealings. In doing so, the firm attempted to establish new values and lifestyles in the interior spaces, while preserving and presenting the structure's historical and cultural heritage on the exterior.

*KIBA: Name of a place. "KI" means wood, and "BA" means town.


Exterior View (daytime). Photo credit: Koji Fujii

The capability of a small residential building within a city

Tokyo has been witnessing deterioration problems lately with old buildings, as well as excessive open spaces on small sites. In fact, many properties have been wiped out by urban renewal. For this project, the firm endeavored to explore the possibilities for developing a small residence on a small site in the center of Tokyo.


Vertical wooden louver. Photo credit: Koji Fujii

In order to adapt a variety of lifestyles to the city, as well as to maximize the potential of the small building, the firm designed the structure with multiple lifestyle spaces, despite the size restrictions of the site. The result is the creation of three different types of housings in a single building: Single-dweller residences (Type A), housing for couples (Type B) and accommodations for families with children (Type C). Despite the relatively small size of the building, the achievement of different types of housing contributes to a sense of community within the heart of the city.


2FL: Type A (Single-dweller residences). Photo credit: Koji Fujii


4FL: Type B (Housing for couples). Photo credit: Koji Fujii


6FL: Type C (Accommodations for families with children). Photo credit: Koji Fujii

Re-creating the landscape of Edo Tokyo KIBA

As for the site itself, due to the vastness of the land, with access to water in the center of Edo Tokyo, numerous lumber retailers historically stored their lumber in front of the structure, including some leaned up against the main entrance of KIBA. However, as most of the businesses migrated to the New-KIBA location in 1981, that original landscape has changed. With that in mind, the facade of the building was designed to reflect the image of the original KIBA landscape, with a focus on two distinct characteristics: its latticework and wooden louver. The design of the grid windows and sashes is derived from Kouraiya latticework, one of the most iconic latticework styles of the Edo period. The wooden louver recalls the original landscape of KIBA, when lumber still leaned vertically against the entrance of a retail shop.


Exterior View (daytime). Photo credit: Koji Fujii

Technical Challenge

The structural design focused on the construction of a seven-story reinforced concrete building, with four columns embedded in a small site with fragile ground. The large opening (Low-E double glazing) facing directly south allows abundant sunlight to pour in, creating a comfortable indoor environment, especially in winter. The wooden louvers, each about three meters in length and twenty-three meters high (max), are supported by wind pressure and load-bearing capacity considerations to the upper and lower ends in order to replicate the old landscape feature of lumber stacked against the front of the store. The wooden louvers are made of recycled wood, adding a significant sustainable and environmentally responsible component to the project.


Exterior View. Photo credit: Koji Fujii

Rewarded for Multiple International Awards

This project is highly evaluated worldwide, and has received many international design awards such as, Architecture MasterPrize 2022: Winner, A' Design Award & Competition 2021-2022: Winner, ICONIC Awards 2022: Winner (2-category), Future House Awards 2022: Winner​, BLT Built Design Awards 2022: Winner, LOOP Design Awards 2022: Winner (2-category), and more.


6FL: Type C (Accommodations for families with children). Photo credit: Koji Fujii

About SAKAE Architects & Engineers

SAKAE Architects & Engineers is a Japanese architectural firm based in Tokyo, Japan, established in 1963. The firm's body of work includes numerous office buildings, public buildings, educational, residential, medical, commercial, industrial, and more. The firm provides various architectural services, as well as planning and design. CEO (Principal Architect) Eisuke Yamazaki earned a Master of Architecture degree at Pratt Institute in New York, USA after first attending the graduate school of architecture in Japan. He is licensed as a first-class architect in Japan and has received several international architecture awards.