Luxury nowadays does not rely on maximal aesthetics and loudness attached to monetary worth. Its definition has taken a shift to sybaritically minimal and modest choices. And to accompany it is a sense of power—the ability to choose, create, and customise according to one’s personal values. Therefore, for the renovated Shibuya Apartment 402 of Hiroyuki Ogawa Architects to have a master bathroom taken up 1/4 of the space allowance, while spatial scarcity is a crucial factor in Tokyo metropolis, is surprisingly understandable.
Lying in the residential area between Shibuya and Daikanyama, this apartment of 34 square metres is rather irregular. To be devoid of furniture and home furnishes in presenting images, the architects intend to emphasise the shapes and forms of architecture, while giving a blank canvas to draw out one's imagination on endless possibilities of spatial occupation. Upon entering the space, a dominating presence of the upper loft envelopes the whole environment, creating a cave-like effect. The carved-out structure becomes a shelter for one to seek comfort and warmth, complemented with a soft yellow light for visual aid. The apartment’s neutral colour palette only offers one textural difference, being the zigzag-pattern screens that also act as screens for spatial division. Hiding behind these wooden screens are the kitchen and master bathroom.
Almost like a response to the domed loft, the master bathroom is a vast space that connects seamlessly to the living room. The wholesome spatial dedication to this part of the house is a rather controversial decision. With an immense lack of space in Tokyo, many people have voiced their concerns about its spatial consumption inside Shibuya Apartment 402.
When connected to the main room, the possibility for such activities as reading, enjoying a film, or having a cup of tea turn the space into a ‘Living Bathroom’, the defining feature of this room, explained the architects.
The apartment then is not just a shelter, but also a safe haven that provides some sort of escapism for the inhabitants. The bathroom here is no longer seen as a commodity, but rather a living space that alters regular perceptions toward this often-neglected area. Only separated by a subtle elevational difference, its empty floor is occupiable when the bathroom is not in use, blending private and communal zones together. The definite border once created by the wooden dividers then becomes a blurry line, as both of their sides are swarmed with natural light from two large openings. The tile flooring also runs continuously throughout the house, coherently unifying all parts together. Here, a collection of minimal spatial manipulations helps redefine, or rather deconstruct, the meanings of housing functions according to aesthetics.
Within a very limited space allowance, Hiroyuki Ogawa Architects were able to create an openness for Shibuya Apartment 402, a strongly desired component for city dwellers. Perhaps that’s the modern luxury that we all look for nowadays—a spaciousness untouched by materialistic adornments; a sanctuary that offers peace for the body and mind.