Kubomi Apartments – A Pocket in the City

In this residential neighborhood a short distance from a train station in the Tokyo suburbs, a large hospital and nursing school create demand from staff and students for studio apartments.

However, because many studio apartments already exist in the area, competition for renters is fierce. The design for this apartment building therefore had to be uniquely appealing to draw stable renters.

Because the design process began in August 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lifestyle needs of single renters and medical professionals were also important considerations. We focused on creating a building that enables single people to live under the same roof with consideration for one another while also fostering communication between renters to prevent isolation.

We proposed a classic solution: a central shared courtyard. We intended this courtyard as a place for renters to interact with neighbors both in the building and in the broader community, transforming isolation into connection.

As a strategy for encouraging community members to use the courtyard, we incorporated curved walls that invite passersby to slip into the concave “hollow.” We also visually integrated the courtyard and sidewalk by using the same asphalt to pave both, further encouraging people to gather in the “hollow.”

The floors, walls, and ceilings of each unit are designed to block sound, meeting the needs of medical professionals and other workers with irregular hours. Sinks are prominently located so residents can wash their hands as soon as they come home. Instead of the typical white walls considered “safe” for apartments, we used striking colors in the kitchens and bathrooms to encourage renters to become more attached to their units. Details such as built-in desks for studying and reading further differentiate these apartments from others in the area and add convenience.

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It is our hope that this apartment building will help society move past standardized dwellings that isolate people from their neighbors and instead encourage relationships that are respectful yet connected through innovative planning.

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