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Building Blocks

On a double suburban lot in Tokyo, the Office of Ryue Nishizawa built a neighborhood-scaled, flexible-format minimalist steel prefab compound for Yasuo Moriyama—a very private individual with a powerful social bent—and six rental tenants. Every room is its own building—even Moriyama's bath is a freestanding box. Here, tradition and innovation interweave to create a new kind of community.

None of the ten units is purely communal, but detached Unit C, Yasuo Moriyama’s “living room,” functions the most publicly. It houses a DVD player, a plasma screen TV, and little else, but it has a tea-room ambience. Moriyama says, “This space gives you the freedom to do anything you like, and it makes you want to.” Here, Moriyama and his pomeranian Shinnosuke visit with Ippei Takahashi, project manager and fellow resident.

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