Column and Slab house by FT Architects


Column and Slab house by FT Architects

Katsuya Fukushima and Hiroko Tominaga of FT Architects have completed a residence called Column and Slab in Tokyo, Japan.


The three-storey building is situated on a narrow 5 x 14 metre site.


Eight concrete columns pierce the interior and support two 100mm-thick floors, which cantilever out at the sides.


The third storey is constructed from timber.


"The grid frame is modernist, while the columns and the raised floors are traditional Japanese forms," say the architects.


Photographs by Koichi Torimura.

Here's some more information from the architects:


Like a Museum

“Column and slab” is our third residential work. Whilst the context is similar to that of our previous two projects, “e-house” and “s-house”, which were located amidst the densely built-up area of Tokyo, the form and meaning of this house turned out to be something quite different.


The site, at 5m x 14m, is small and narrow even compared to its modest neighbours. Furthermore, it is bounded on three sides by the adjacent plots, leaving only the narrow frontage open to the road.


The main theme of the two previous works, was to deflect the effects of urban density through the use of devices such as the free-form, cranked screens. However, on such a tight site, it is not enough merely to deal with the feeling of oppression brought about by the dense surroundings. From the first time we saw the site, we had wanted the house to evoke the historical form/typology of the dwelling and to challenge the urban environment.


Eight Columns

As ground improvement was necessary, a grid frame of columns and beams was employed, and the groundwork was confined to the areas beneath the columns. Next, the columns bearing onto the foundation were brought inside the house, resulting in the cantilever of the floors at the sides, maximizing the width of the building. The columns are integrated within the interior of the house. During construction, the site resembled an excavation of Japanese ancient columns.


The 300mm square concrete columns are positioned on the 2.6m x 3.0m grid and support the two 100mm-thick raised floors. A timber box sits on the top of the concrete building like a penthouse. This simple and clear structure is a logical solution dealing with the client’s wish for as much space as possible, while at the same time, addressing the restrictions imposed by the urban environment and regulations. However, this would not have been possible had it not been for the cooperation of the client who joked that the rough concrete columns were like additional members of the family.


The House and its Form

On entering the ground floor, there is a comfortable sense of tension, instilled by the grid of columns marking three spaces of approximately 4.5 tatami-mats in size, arranged along the length of the house, and by the 0.95m aisles on either side. This floor is called the “doma”, an earthen floor room, and it brings the outside and the city into the house.


The floor-to-ceiling height of the first floor is moderately lowered, creating an impression of both tension and intimacy, while the mobile storage and the light well loosely divide the bedrooms from the bathroom. On the second floor, you are greeted by the simple box-form space with its generous openings and relaxed atmosphere. This is where dining takes place and hence where the domestic hub lies. The eight columns, in place of partitions, adapt flexibly to the changes that will occur in family life over time. Not only do these concrete columns have a structural function, but they also harbour the potential for other functions in the future.


In Tokyo today, the houses that are built do not adhere to any particular order or set of rules. Amidst this sprawl of unrestricted confusion, we wanted to create a house that was akin to a museum.


Integrating traditional forms into everyday life, allows the house to establish links to tradition and to create a sense of spatial tension. The grid frame is modernist, while the columns and the raised floors are traditional Japanese forms. These established forms will play a vivid part in their contemporary setting. We are in the process of developing a language that employs forms without being nostalgic and traditionalist.


Location: Tokyo, Japan
Architect: Katsuya Fukushima, Hiroko Tominaga / FT Architects
Principal Use: House
Total Floor Area: 105.6m2
Structure: Reinforced Concrete, Partly Wood, 3 stories








Posted on Friday December 5th 2008 at 2:46 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • James

    Beautiful architecture, although there is a void that prevents me from calling this a “home”. When Kengo Kuma resists from using concrete because of its effects on the human soul, this is what’s he’s talking about. With more natural light, some better material choices, and some furnishings, this would be a great place to live.

  • Must have been a pretty cool client to allow the architect to get away with a project like this.

    While I like the project for the retro styling, although tt looks more like maybe it should have been build here in china, cheap, simple and stark and factory-like.

    Furthermore, reading the architects description made me cringe.

    “From the first time we saw the site, we had wanted … to challenge the urban environment.”
    “integrating traditional forms into everyday life, allows the house to establish links to tradition and to create a sense of spatial tension.”
    “we wanted to create a house that was akin to a museum.”

    Isn’t this what every architect attempts to do?

    While the grid and the minimalism seems like a straight forward way to build a house, and makes for magazine quality photos. The concept slabs and columns seems like it could have been pushed further, and effected the spaces in new ways rather than only creating “tension”.

  • Mowgli

    it doesnt look finished…

  • chapmaniac

    great house

  • One

    Curious,… strange mix of modern (Piloty domino), classical (colum) and economical… hummm… ground floor is very intresting, it is dark but t is open no doors no walls…. curious…

  • Filippo

    it’s an not sustainable architecture…energetic hole!

  • Oddjob

    Awesome idea for the illumination of the bathroom. Good job.

  • ….brrrr…..

  • Alex

    One word….Cold!

  • ldogge

    i absolutely love it…bare-bones architecture…minimal and well thought-out.

  • Yes, really cold. I think that is not because of concrete, but because of lack of colors and natural lighting. The last floor is nice, especially bathroom.
    Wide window just above the front gate would not harm the overall “column” style…

  • Leeboo

    First floor looks suspiciously like parking area, check out the neighbor who has the car parked in their first floor, very common in Asian countries.

  • kingmu

    I think Japanese designers respond wonderfully to Japan’s claustrophobic environment. This is one of those situations where I think Japanese designers are best suited to Japanese housing needs. I congratulate all those Japanese designers. They continue to demonstrate sensitivity, intuition and elegance. I am almost always impressed.

  • maaama

    almost divine

  • Gabs

    When I look at projects like these, I’m more convinced that architecture has really not evolved in decades.

  • lex

    for the plus side: the house is really expressive for the name (slab and column), clear modernist expression through construction as well.

    tats abt it for the pros.

    cons-wise, there don’t seem to be an articulation of spaces (its one big space!)

    i do like the material use of concrete and timber. it gives a somewhat coldness (in the lower floor) and coziness in the upper floors (perhaps a way of demarcating the spaces?), yet at the same time u can see the bare concrete columns and beams, even in the toilet!

    i seriously hate the checkered floor. wad were they tinking?

  • One

    Bath room with large glass sheets opened to neighbors’ window, with exit facing on bath tab… The section looks like Corbusier’s Domino House while the house looks more like stacked up shipping container… Is this a life reality in Tokyo? Modern Container in transition…?

  • Herr K

    nice. it does evoke some memories of shinoharas work.

  • Peter

    @One- You should look again at the drawings. The big sheet of glass does not look onto the neighbor. The door behind the tub is admittedly weird but I suspect it is just there to provide access to the light slot for cleaning and maintenance. (too bad there is no shower out there.)

  • mk

    bit depressing….

  • natte

    Really nice to see the structure of the building, really industrial feel. Is the ground floor maybe meant to be a garage or workshop? that would be sweet!

  • Student

    Where is this? I'm in Tokyo and I'm trying to find it to take pictures of the surroundings as well as the building.

  • siby

    how does the services work – for instance – the bath, how does the plumbing and water suply services work – any shafts provided for these (dont see any though)…..just wondering??