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Building Blocks

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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.

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  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.  Photo by: Dean Kaufman
    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.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

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  Miscellaneous footwear litters the entranceway of three-story Unit F.  Photo by: Dean Kaufman
    Miscellaneous footwear litters the entranceway of three-story Unit F.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

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  Nakamura (far right), Masako Nishizaki (the only resident not involved in design), and Ippei Takahashi enjoy a sushi lunch.  Photo by: Dean Kaufman
    Nakamura (far right), Masako Nishizaki (the only resident not involved in design), and Ippei Takahashi enjoy a sushi lunch.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

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  Johanna Meyer-Grohbruegge, the newest resident and one of the rotating international architects in Ryue Nishizawa’s office, works in the sanctuary of her room (Unit I).  Photo by: Dean Kaufman
    Johanna Meyer-Grohbruegge, the newest resident and one of the rotating international architects in Ryue Nishizawa’s office, works in the sanctuary of her room (Unit I).

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

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  A stream of curious visitors necessitates plenty of takeout. The 2946-23 chair by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa for NextMaruni (waits patiently near a fresh delivery of soba noodles and curry.  Photo by: Dean Kaufman
    A stream of curious visitors necessitates plenty of takeout. The 2946-23 chair by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa for NextMaruni (waits patiently near a fresh delivery of soba noodles and curry.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

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  The stereo in Unit A’s third-floor bedroom/study box is just a tease compared to the windowless basement “audio room,” where Moriyama spends private time in the company of 2,000 vinyl albums, mostly jazz. Here, a few albums are accompanied by Noguchi’s Akari Lamp 1N.  Photo by: Dean Kaufman
    The stereo in Unit A’s third-floor bedroom/study box is just a tease compared to the windowless basement “audio room,” where Moriyama spends private time in the company of 2,000 vinyl albums, mostly jazz. Here, a few albums are accompanied by Noguchi’s Akari Lamp 1N.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

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  Each unit has its own outdoor space, but none are physically bounded, facilitating spontaneous interaction. Taeko Nakatsubo, an architect with the Office of Ryue Nishizawa, enjoys a quiet moment outside.  Photo by: Dean Kaufman
    Each unit has its own outdoor space, but none are physically bounded, facilitating spontaneous interaction. Taeko Nakatsubo, an architect with the Office of Ryue Nishizawa, enjoys a quiet moment outside.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

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  In Unit J's kitchen, the Bouroullec brother's Algue for Vitra echoes the greenery outside.  Photo by: Dean Kaufman
    In Unit J's kitchen, the Bouroullec brother's Algue for Vitra echoes the greenery outside.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

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  The evening bath is a ritual in Japan, and public baths are still around, but this is a new twist. Moriyama curtains the bath during use, but won’t cover any other windows, “because it feels good to couple the inner space with the outside world.”  Photo by: Dean Kaufman
    The evening bath is a ritual in Japan, and public baths are still around, but this is a new twist. Moriyama curtains the bath during use, but won’t cover any other windows, “because it feels good to couple the inner space with the outside world.”

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

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  The compound at dusk.  Photo by: Dean Kaufman
    The compound at dusk.

    Photo by: Dean Kaufman

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