Holiday Schedule

Our office will be closed for the holidays from December 29, 2018 to January 6, 2019.
We wish everyone a very happy New Year!

Bolton Headquarters  photo by Sobajima Toshihiro

Den-Paku + Magun Hiroba・Akakina  (renovation project)

Den-Paku + Magun Hiroba・Akakina  (renovation project)

Construction Costs Are Essential Components of Architecture

Text : Yasuhiro Yamashita

Alongside my career as the principle architect of Atelier TEKUTO, I have been working on low-cost home design projects called Project 1000 which aims to design and build bespoke, designer homes under a budget of 10-20 million yen, for 20 years. The reason for this pursuit is my awareness of the importance of building costs, their relevance to society, in some aspect outweighing the importance of architectural forms, their relevance to clients, something clients are inevitably interested in.

Boltun Headquarters was a piece of architecture that I designed, after quite some time, with a major focus on controlling building costs (this is apart from the Project 1000 homes). Recently, the construction costs for concrete buildings in Tokyo have reached 450K yen per square meter. I thought it would be a meaningful gesture to challenge the insane situation. I set my target on cutting down the cost by half. The budget for Boltun Headquarters was tight but the client had a deep understanding of our work and had been extremely cooperative throughout the creative process. One of the difficulties we faced here was the weak ground strength of the site that required expensive piling, therefore, reducing the building weight became a crucial factor. Despite the difficulties I was never discouraged by the great challenge because of the client’s understanding towards design and because of my long-time collaborators’ consent to team up with me. The special team consisted of structural engineer Jun Sato, contractor Shigeki Matsuoka (Homebuilder Co, Ltd.) and the site workers I have worked with for over 20 years. While deciding on the rough massing of the building, we compared the construction costs of wood, steel frame and concrete. Mr. Matsuoka and I have built more than 80 structures together and we share a very similar “gut feeling” on costs. To our staff members’ surprise, the rough estimates that we separately presumed on 20 categories of construction costs were almost identical. We revised and narrowed down the architectural form, materials and developed details based on that estimate. Revising the architectural details Mr. Matsuoka and I created together during nearly 30 years of time while considering new details was somewhat a “divine” process, if I could put it that way. Our vice president / partner architect Mizukami and other staff members recalled and talked enthusiastically about the meetings between Mr. Sato, Mr. Matsuoka and me several times that it was as though they were watching a movie or witnessing a saga of some sort. I remember thinking to myself we must be amidst the process of creating a piece of architecture that is truly committed to society.

As a result, we achieved a piece of architecture exactly as I envisioned at almost half the regular building cost. Mr. Sato calculated so as the building weight could be cut down as much as possible, almost down to 60 % of a regular building, Mr. Matsuoka together with his workers constructed the structure with a critical attitude. I created nearly 100 study models in a process of discovering the perfect dynamism I envisioned in this piece of architecture, created new details and chose materials that are reasonable yet suited to this project.

Half a year has passed since the completion of this building and it seems that the client and his employees love their office more than they had ever imagined. A few adjustments were made afterwards, some of which were executed by the clients themselves, but all were done in harmony with the completed building.

After building nearly 300 pieces of architecture, I firmly believe that the intellect and understanding of the client determines half of the quality of the resulting architecture.

(From Yamashita’s facebook post 15 Dec 2018; photos by SOBAJIMA, Toshihiro)

R・torso・C was published in Stern magazine in Germany.

We have cooperated Mercedes Smart photo shooting in October.
Photo session took place in front of the Atelier TEKUTO’s “R · toso · C” house.
We have received the famous Stern magazine from Germany ih which the article was published.

What is so similar between Mercedes “Smart” and our “R・toso・C” ?

Text by Yasuhiro Yamashita

Two weeks ago I had a chance to try Mercedes Smart which was scheduled to be previewed at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. Now that the show ended, I am allowed to share my pictures and writing the report.
Mercedes said that the concept of this car resembles the micro-homes I design in Tokyo.

My concept of small architecture is made up of three keys.
1) Creating a “NU-KE (noo-kay)”, visual and psychological connections between interior and exterior to give a feeling of expansion of space.
2) Think in cross section. Though it is small in the area alone, when you consider it in three dimensions the space becomes wider and richer.
3) Unify colors and textures. When same colors and similar textures are used, optical illusion occurs, and you feel the space wider than it actually is.

These three concepts were so similar to the concept of Smart that Mercedes’ people were surprised.
In addition to this concept, the great thing about this car is like a “flying carpet” expressing the next generation.

There is no steering wheel, the glass not only becomes transparent, but also turns into an information board. There still were safety belts, but it will not be necessary, because car accidents will not occur in the future. Even though I’m not very enthusiastic about cars, I was so astonished, the car lovers would be more excited.
The kids from the neighborhood were also happy to get into the car, which is the only existing one in the world.

I heard about the possibility of this car being actually seen in Tokyo around 2025 and 2030 or later, hindered by the laws of Japan. Words fail me… can’t we see them sooner?


Yasuhiro Yamashita will participate in “KOGEI architecture” exhibition.

An exhibition titled “KOGEI architecture” will be held at Kanazawa 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa People’s Gallery B1, B3 from November7. The theme of the exhibition is, “Exploring the possibilities that arise when KOGEI (craft) meets architecture.” Yamashita will participate in the exhibition, and the preparation is going on in our studio.

The title of Yamashita’s art work is “Katagaran?” taken from a local dialect.
A certain traditional craft item of Kanazawa will be used to create something that exists in between craft and architecture.
Here is an image of the study model.
What does “Katagaran?”mean?
Which traditional craft item will be used?
What exactly is it, that exists “in between craft and architecture?”
Please find out in Kanazawa.

Date: 2017.11.7 tue-11.19 sun
Time: 10:00-18:00 (will close at 17:00 on final day)
Admission: free


We had visitors!

We had visitors from Taiwan, an intern student 5 years ago and her friend.
We are happy to know that the student at that time is a fine architect now!