Building in Ginza is a minimalist house located in Tokyo, Japan, designed by SO&CO. The site, located in an anonymous alley near the one of Ginza’s main streets, was abandoned for three years when the project started. With a front to the street of only 2.7 meters, and the tall buildings surrounding it as walls to its boundaries, if one was to look up from the inside of the site, he/she could see a perfect L shaped fraction of the sky. This particular location and its narrow shape suggest the idea of going from an alley to another alley. This feeling, as well as the importance of the natural zenith light, are the two ideas that triggered the design of this project.

Due to a non-resistant ground and to the difficult access to the L shape of the site, from the early stages the use of steel structure was discarded in favor of reinforced concrete structure. Also, the foundation was limited, so the building must be as light as possible. This is resolved by designing openings as large as possible and balancing their position to assure equal loads on the building. These big openings on the narrow entrance hall make even more evident the feeling of a space caught up in an alley. The staircase, made of steel and glass, acts as an expansion joint between the two concrete volumes letting them work structurally independently.

Photography by Takumi Ota