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Kosugiyu Tonari in Tokio, T/H – Kosuke Higuchi, Midori Taki, Photo: Katsuhisa Kida/FOTOTECA

A Heavenly Atmosphere: Kosugiyu Tonari in Tokyo

In Tokyo, the old Japanese tradition of communal bathing facilities lives on in buildings such as the Kosugiyu in the district of Koenjikita. In order to enable other forms of communal life there in the future, Kosuke Higuchi and Midori Taki’s T/H studio have extended the bathhouse by a three-storey addition that is home to a dining room, a relaxation room and – on the top storey – a bedroom with balcony.

The first view of the building is just as unconventional as its interior development, but draws on the structure of the existing building next door, where skylights in the triple-layered, pagoda-like roof allow daylight to penetrate the bathing hall. In the extension, T/H have added wraparound bands of skylights where the technical services are usually hidden: in the hollow spaces of the ceilings. Suspended ceiling membranes scatter the daylight entering here into the ground-floor dining room and the relaxation room on the first upper level, which is furnished with tatami mats. As with the jutting canopies, these membranes slope to various directions to create distinct lighting moods on each storey: vivid southern light floods the ground floor, while more tranquil northern light illuminates the level above. According to the angle of view, the stretch ceiling appears either opaque or slightly pellucid, so that visitors’ eyes are drawn to the steel spatial framework opposite. The hollow spaces in the ceiling also contribute to ventilation, for some of the lateral window bands can be opened. At night, the building becomes a large, somewhat bizarre lantern that leaves viewers guessing about its actual number of storeys.

Further Information:

Landscape architecture: Brocante
Construction company: Matsumoto Corporation

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