This is our proposal for the last architecture competition I've participated in. I did it with my friend David Santos Castillo and we are happy to announce that we received the third prize (between 380 entries). We are really satisfied about it because the project idea came in just one afternoon, it took us around couple of weeks to reach the basic project and another two for illustrations and details. That's express architecture.
The aim of this competition was to develop a new leisure center in central Tokyo. The center had to fit with the lifestyle of Japanese society while offering a new method of entertainment designed especially for them. We were asked to locate it in a traditional Japanese empty and narrow plot next to Akihabara's train station, Akihabara is worldwide known for being the central district for new technology, manga and anime in Tokyo. The plot was approximately about 15x50 meters long with the two 15 meter facades towards busy streets, and the only requirement was to fulfill the program in less than ten floors height.
here the brief text following the competition pannel:
The project outwardly follows the urban fabric of Akihabara, but stays hidden inside a large opening of the Tokyo skyline. Aesthetically topped by a mosaic, a plaza surmounts a podium flanked by two emerging towers of stacked zashiki boxes that are incorporated into the multipurpose activity public space between the bar and the kitchens. Located below this level one can find the auditorium - exposition space, and the “otaku market” divided in two floors directly connected to the My Way 2.
Tokyo Replay Center delimitates a space of calm within the chaos of a city. It generates a void energized by tradition, a redoubt where the mind plays, a refuge of unlimited exchange, opened not only to the materiality of existence but also to the reunion of the spirit. In the same way that the violence of the great wave of Kanagawa contrasts with the serenity of the empty background, the implantation of the towers matches the calm of the empty space: a yin and a yang.
Jury's review of the project:
On top of a perfectly rational distribution of the required spaces, with the larger and more public spaces on the lower floors and the private rooms on the higher ones, the jury really appreciated the interior layout of the media rooms that this project proposes.
The rooms are made from classic Japanese tatamis which allow the rooms to change its use very easily, just like the rooms in traditional Japanese architecture do. By having these tatami rooms one can easily watch a movie while completely laying down, eat or play videogames while seating or stand up to sing and dance. The rooms can also be connected with one another by sliding the vertical divisions between them to generate bigger spaces, again, like it’s done in the traditional Japanese architecture. This solves a very real life problem that this kind of media centres face, which is not being able to offer their clients the room they need because they only have bigger or smaller rooms left. According to the jury this was an outstanding reinterpretation of what a karaoke/media room should be, relaying on simple and classic concepts to create modern and flexible spaces.
The jury also pointed out the visual connection between the two towers that are occupied by the media rooms. As opposed to many karaokes in japan, were the private rooms are faced to the street for anyone passing by to look inside, in this case people in the media rooms know they can be observed, but just by people who are engaged in the same activity as they are, creating a sort of synergy between all the people that are using the installations at that particular point in time.