Toyko Apartment Renovation Embraces Unfinished Style – Front Office Tokyo

Set in a residential district of Akasaka in Tokyo, this small apartment has been renovated by local firm, Front Office Tokyo. The apartment block was originally built in the 1970’s and the architects were brought on board to help create a more functional space.


Small Apartment - FrontOfficeStudio - Tokyo - Kitchen and Bedroom - Humble Homes

For those of you that hate exposed concrete, well, you’ll probably hate this redesign too. The “unfinished” style continues to hold sway in Japan and this apartment embraces it. The rough concrete ceilings have been exposed and painted white in some areas, while metal ducting, and light cabling is also on display.


Small Apartment - FrontOfficeStudio - Tokyo - Kitchen - Humble Homes

However, the architect’s main focus was on opening up the 538 square foot (50 square meter) property. 1970’s Tokyo apartment blocks are known for having small, poky living spaces and low ceilings. They removed all partition walls to create a single open plan space (apart from the bathroom) and got rid of the false ceiling.


Small Apartment - FrontOfficeStudio - Tokyo - Living Room - Humble Homes

Now, the different rooms are defined by a series of multi-functional boxes and sliding doors. The front of the property is occupied by living and dining room. This leads directly into the kitchen, which is separated from the bedroom by an inset storage cabinet.

Small Apartment - FrontOfficeStudio - Tokyo - Bathroom - Humble Homes

The bedroom and the kitchen can be closed off from the living room through the use of three large sliding doors. The very back of the unit is taken up by the bathroom and entry way. The bathroom exemplifies the unfinished style, with what looks to be unpainted render on the walls.

Small Apartment - FrontOfficeStudio - Tokyo - Floor Plan - Humble Homes

Simple materials are used throughout and the interior decor is intended to place focus on the inhabitants life, as opposed to their stuff: “The design is intended to act as a background to the clients life and so we chose to keep it simple. As they live in the home the character will come from the daily life of the owners.”

For more Japanese houses and apartments check out the New Kyoto Townhouse by Alphaville Architects. Or, Opera, a small apartment based in the bustling city of Tokyo. See all Japanese houses.

Via Dezeen
Photos: Toshiyuki Yano

Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.

  1. Actually Akasaka is a central district of such unrelenting urban business that, were I to live there, I would find the austere white and gray concrete soothing. One could easily add whatever colors or patterns one needed, or focus on one’s life rather than one’s possessions (as the designers note). The open plan flows well in such a small space. It’s good to see the Firm gives careful thought to its projects (as can be seen from viewing the others on their website).

  2. I wonder how old people get up off the floor in the morning after sleeping on the floor? Other than the kitchen sitting out in the middle of the floor, it seems to be a good use of space. I like that they removed the false ceiling to give it more height and add an air conditioner.

  3. This is a great use of space and the drawing of the floor plan hints at more than you see in the pictures. The bed is not meant to be necessarily on the floor as in the picture, but could be a futon frame off the floor. There is also a place for the refrigerator in the drawing, and what looks to be a sofa along the living room wall instead of the two straight back chairs in the picture. This apartment has a lot of potential and seems huge by Japanese standards. I would live there.

  4. Candide, the comment about old people and getting up off the floor in the morning was one of the first things I also thought of, being an old person. Since I have two futon beds, one with a wooden frame and one with a metal frame, in my home I would not see the necessity of putting the futon mattress directly on the floor, nor would that be good for the mattress as the mattress needs good air circulation to dry out. Also since I am old, I would want the air conditioner you mentioned and a dishwasher as standing to do dishes is not something I do anymore. I have often thought that living in a loft apartment would suit me much better than owning my own home as it is a more open flexible space and there would be no outside to maintain.