Mathew Suen

Towerhouse Analysis

Land is precious in Tokyo and out of this need to maximize space, some rather peculiar solutions have been implemented. In this case, Atelier Bow Wow’s Tower House takes the ordinary program of the house and fits it onto a three by six meter footprint. With such site restrictions, verticality becomes a necessity and the relationships between spaces become that much more critical. While the exterior of Tower House, as its namesake implies, takes on a minimal medieval tower motif with heavy concrete walls, the interior spaces contain no built-in partitions, instead, relying on a series of syncopated floor slabs to differentiate space. Domestic programs are often considered private, but even in a house, some spaces are considered more private than others. The diagrams here depict the sight-zones of occupants standing at the edge of each floor slab, the edge providing the greatest view into the other slabs. Overlapping sight zones (depicted in the Visibility Densities as darker regions) can be seen as more visible and thus less private. Some spaces cannot be seen at all and have been mapped out in Invisible Spaces. In a sense, Tower House not only inverts the program-site relationship — taking adjacent programs and stacking them — but in doing so, it also inverts the functions of floors as horizontal slabs become walls take on the role of spatial partitioning. There is a flip of the vertical and the horizontal that makes itself evident in Tower House.