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A Japanese Manga Artist’s House / Tan Yamanouchi & AWGL

Architect: Tan Yamanouchi & AWGL
Place: Tokyo, Japan
Year: 2022
Photographer: Katsumasa Tanaka
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The building was designed by Tan Yamanouchi & AWGL in 2022 and is located in Tokyo, Japan. A wooden house sits on a small narrow plot in metropolitan Tokyo. The clients are an aspiring manga artist, her partner, and two owls who have recently joined the family. The manga artist made three requests: First, the house should accommodate the artist’s entire work process, from creative concept to completion, meetings, and media interviews. Second, the house should be compact and not overly open to the outside. Finally, and most importantly, the home should inspire creativity. The architect envisioned the dwelling as “a building that floats a few centimeters above our daily lives,” with the goal of ensuring that it is still tied to our tangible daily lives while also evoking a sense of fictional narrative.

The project began with the selection of a plot that was closely related to manga artists. The west facade, which faces the front road, is designed as a warped seismic wall evoking dynamically rising earth from the ground, with a tunnel penetrating the wall leading to the entrance. The opening in the solid wall invites visitors to leave the ordinary and enter the extraordinary, evoking a movie scene. The overall plan is intended to maximize the narrow and long plot of land, with the east area featuring three-floor levels at the back of the site and the west area featuring two-floor levels to create a split-level floor plan.

The architect rearranged the sequence of alternating split levels and created substantial differences in elevation. A light court (1.2 m wide, 5.5 m maximum height) is provided on the north side of the house, and the number of other openings was limited as much as possible to create a contrast between light and dark in a “void” spreading throughout the house like an amoeba. A stairway runs up through the void space filled with contrasts of high/low and light/dark, making a three-dimensional composition that evokes a narrative experienced through the body.

The lifestyles of manga artists have changed dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. We no longer see assistants gathering at an artist’s atelier since online production has become the mainstream of manga creation. Alternatively, their private houses have become a place for meetings and serve as studios for interviews and accommodating the press. The work of a contemporary manga artist could be divided into three stages: 1. Creation (enclosed and secluded), 2. Meetings (partially opened to others), and 3. Giving interviews (opening to the public), and the shades of public/private required in each stage varies.

The architect designed a void with contrasts of high/low and light/dark to provide unenclosed yet defined areas, or what the architect calls “ponds and banks,” that would allow for subtle and flexible use of space in a very compact dwelling. We strive to continue creating architecture that embraces open narratives while pursuing logical solutions.

  • Architects: Tan Yamanouchi & AWGL
  • Built Area: 44.16 m2
  • Year: 2022
  • Lead Architect: Tan Yamanouchi
  • Structural Engineering: Graph Studio, Yuko Mihara
  • Construction: Taishin Kensetsu, Yasuhiro Ikebe, Keisuke Nishide
  • Country: Tokyo, Japan
  • Photographs: Katsumasa Tanaka

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