Catalyst architecture6


Shibaura House

Interview with Kanako Iwanaka, Shibaura House
Producer: Hans Kiib


SHIBAURA HOUSE – A vertical landscape

Shibaura House is situated in the Shibaura district of central Tokyo. The building has been designed by Kazuyo Sejima, SANAA. She has attempted to create a building that stands out markedly in the district’s townscape, with its steel structure and minimalistic and transparent expression.

The building’s six floors have varying floor heights that allow space for two mezzanines and two outdoor terraces. The floors have different designs and a variation of stair connections, which make moving through the building on the inner and outer staircases a spatial experience.

The building includes a private office section on the fourth floor, while the other floors generously offer a mix of public programs, financed and administered by private funds. The building is used frequently for cooking classes, yoga, gymnastics, dance, amateur painting, courses for young mothers, and local events. It is, however, also a building that provides space for educational activities and arrangements, run by non-profit organizations, schools, and universities as well as by private people for a relatively low rental fee. The design supports the client’s intention to create a space that works as a small ‘public niche’ in the whirling, changeable cityscape of market driven activities.

The predominant theme in SANAA/Sejima’s architecture is the interaction between minimal construction and architectural transparency. Based on careful studies of the program of the project and the interplay with its surroundings, they work very purposefully to allow the building’s interior spatiality to visually merge. In the same way, the building’s surroundings are drawn into the building to give its architecture character. As a result, SANAA creates a re-interpretation of the traditional Japanese architecture’s flowing sequence of spaces and an open relation between outside and inside.



Shibaura House, district of Shibaura in central Tokyo

Size: 1,176 m2. Site area 14x14 meters. Six floors.

Contains: Private office & space with public access for families with children, events, workshops, etc.

Architect: Kazuyo Sejima from SANAA

Client: Printing Company Kohkohu Seihan, Inc.

Inaugurated: 2011