Stay In The Sky Stay in The Sky

The area in front of Jiyugaoka station North exit is exposed to intensive flows of people as well as various things and events in the town. From early morning to midnight, scenes change constantly through local people’s ac- tivities, the tides of 160,000 commuters and visitors a day, car and train fluxes, and the operations of shops and offices, all of which punctuate the apparently chaotic scenes into unique rhythms of the town like slow breath- ing.
Now almost buried among recent high-rise buildings, five two-storey shops facing the sta- tion square still remain as the face of the town, and one would notice the shops share an un- even yet similar-height roofline. Once noticed, the contrast between new high-rises and the surviving low-rises looks like a reminder of old Jiyugaoka back in the rapidly fading past.
Our accommodation project “YOUR PRIVATE SKY” redefines the now-hidden roofline into an open space for the shop customers and lo- cal and visiting rooftop lovers, while providing special access to sky and townscape only with the guests.



Architect and educator – Pier Vittorio Aureli describes the political and architectural ideology in landscape and forms of urban economy in his book The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture. Aureli investigates to what extent some architecture could classify as some kind of methodology, visualizing architectures as archipelagos to conceptually categorize the formality of an architecture. The architecture of the archipelago must be an absolute architecture, as it is clearly subdivided in the city, in other words an “enclave” determined by the unbalanced economic exploitation. In contray, an ambiguity in space is explored in Arata Isozaki’s concept of “Ma (間)”, in his curated arts and architectural exhibition of MA: Space-Time in Japan Exhibition in 1979. Isozaki defies the Western logic of isolation of space and time, and fundamentally points out the significant sense of homogeneity in things. That being said, he pictures architecture as an event, or a phenomenon that encompasses historical context and interactions of time in between the spaces.

In 2021, the iconic department store closed in the midst of busy traffic, which was Marui (OIOI) at the west exit of Ikebukuro station. Ikebukuro was originally known for the black market (闇市) where the illegally installed street vendors were the artery of residents after the World War II, yet most of them are demolished and transformed into massive department store buildings today.

Although OIOI once became everyone’s shopping hub in Ikebukuro, unfortunately the demand for department stores had decreased due to the flow of time and changes of people’s need, eventually causing its market to corrupt. However, perhaps the critical issue in demolition of OIOI also comes from a lack of an “utopia” space for visitors to behave freely and flexibly through a human scale perspective. In fact, many of the department stores in Japan restrict human behaviors which possibly might have happened, except walking to shop. In order to regain the sense of Japan- ness in OIOI, the concept of “Ma”, which is strictly tighten up to the tradition of Japanese architecture, should be reinterpreted. The traditional sensibility of Japanese architecture has noticeable differences from Western architecture. Linguistically, Japanese language tends to be more dependent on what is proactive than Western languages, representing a high context of dependence of “Ba (場)”. Based on the concept of “Ma” and its formalistic structure, we intend to unravel what the architecturally ambiguous boundaries represent and what enhances the Japan-ness in the tatami beach. Arata Isozaki once claimed the significance of “Ma” is the meaning of the interval that naturally exists between things which exist in the phenomena continuously.


The tatami beach does not necessarily refer to the ocean beach as mimicking the form. The homogenic space generated by the endless repetition of Tatami, a swaying and ambiguous light glows the materials, all come into a behavior of creating such a relaxing and pleasant atmosphere to feel the sense of continuous seashore. Repetition sometimes encloses in-between spaces, as Aureli articulates the formality of the thing – in this case the tatami mats, is the homogeneous repetition to generate the uniformity. As Jacques Derrida proposes ”différance as temporization, différance as spacing”, the imaginary boundary created by the relationship between continuity of tatami and the ceiling patterns, are the ambiguity of space which ultimately is equivalent to the concept of “Ma”.

Tatami patterns: The formation of the tatami floors remains its randomness scattered over the eighth floor of the building, despite the various combinations of tatami patterns being precisely calculated to induce certain human behaviors. Yojohan (四畳半), four tatami mats surrounding a small space with a sunken Kotatsu where the tatami is detachable, introduces behaviors of sitting, eating, reading, napping, relaxing, and playing games. As the numbers of tatami mat grow to Hachijo (八畳), and Sanju-nijo (三十二畳), the scale of human behaviors increases as well. Individuals start to scatter to seek for smaller “Ma” for coziness, and groups find bigger “ma” to hold a banquet, class, and such social activities. All behaviors are inherited by people across time and space through Japan-ness of “Ma” as if they had unconsciously remembered how to spend time on the tatami. Isozaki explains this phenomenon as symbolic space, along with Emmanuel Levinas states “the sign represents the present in its absence”.

Entrance shoeboxes: A raised platform is a sacred space with an imaginary boundary to make a distinction to the ground level in Japanese traditional architecture. Although the behavior of taking off pairs of shoes is common to be observed in temples to practice and pray, it is consciously done in the inhabitable spaces in Japan.

The garden: The most ambiguous space where people sit at the edge of tatami to observe the garden, and the actual city scape of Ikebukuro in the background of the arches. It blends the outside real world with the inside “utopia”. However, there is no clear boundary between the inside and outside, and the ambiguity of these scenery creates a conceptual Japan-ness.

Tabata / Book Station

There were many writers living around Tabata station. Bunshi village, where creative activi-ties were developed through intense competition, is now a residential area on a highland spreading beyond a small south entrance. On the other hand, the north entrance is crowded with various residents in a space covered with a sloping roof, which resembles the Western terminal station. Because of the form type of the station, which stands above the platform and also due to the crossing of the Yamanote line and the Keihin Tohoku line, the scale of the roof is extremely huge.Though the spread of e-books is becoming intense, books as physical objects will never disappear. Rather in recent years, the experience of reading books has been given a new role by fusing bookstores with cafes and hotels. If the station becomes a landmark of the area and explores the idea of becoming a base for new exchanges based on the culture and experience of the book, how would Tabata station would look like? A library with book shelves is arranged symmetrically along the structure of the large roof. In accordance with the escalator position from the two platforms, a escalator connecting to the second floor is made, inviting people to enter a space full of bookshelves beneath a void that symbolizes the “Book Station”. The bookshelf from the catwalk on the side of the slope roof is expanded and spread towards the places such as bakery and souvenir shop. Ever- ything is managed with tags and everybody can lend and borrow the books from anywhere. The theme is that of the book that gathers changes whenever someone uses it. On the back of a tall bookshelf, in order to continue the culture of creating books, facilities such as writing class along with editorial and publishing facilities help users to engage in these interests.


The proposal for architectural intervention in spaces underneath both the historical and the modern railway viaducts broadens and deepens pre-existing communities and ecologies, and reuses the available structures. It connects districts in eastern and western sides of the railway tracks by creating porous environment of passages in the ground floor level. These are intertwined with spaces for services such as shops, restaurants or bars, as well as rentable areas for a variety of public functions, or fully public spaces.