Tokyo Deviations



“As foci of power and capital in the city, the office building takes on many forms in addition to the ubiquitous skyscraper. Inspired by Bow-wow Atelier’s celebration of the Da-Me (no good) architecture of Tokyo, this project hopes to respond to the problematic work-culture cultivated by the Tokyo office building. The Fuji Television Building, designed by Kenzo Tange and Associates in 1996, represents a microcosm or a city within a city on an island within an island through the public image of an entertainment corporation. The building functions as a kind of vertical theme park on the artificial island of Odaiba with a monumental lattice of mast columns connecting two office towers with a subterranean broadcasting center.

Within the city of Tokyo and across cultures and through time the bathhouse (Sentō in Japan) has historically offered an important relief from the bureaucratic environs of the office place. With the pervasiveness of over-work and agoraphobia in Tokyo, the public bath initiates an opposing space within the city independent of commercial use but still constrained by cultural norms and gender binaries.

The project takes on a parasitic approach to adaptive reuse through which the office typology of the open plan is interrogated and revised through the insertion of several architectural apparatuses. These apparatuses function as a set of hyper-specific responses to the office building typology by modifying, expanding and mutating existing service spaces, restrooms and kitchens as well as the common spaces of labor. While responding to the intense work culture of the city, these new bathhouse “characters'' do not purport to solve an endemic problem but works within an ever densifying city solely lacking the kinds of intermittent and small public spaces that free city dwellers from the rigors of labor and the distractions of commerce.”