Apartments in this raw concrete block in Tokyo by architects Key Operation feature indoor balconies that look over both the street and internal stairwells, so neighbours can see who's coming and going (+ slideshow).
The three storey block contains twelve apartments but has no corridors; instead, each wing of the L-shaped block has a skylit stairwell containing a galvanised steel staircase, which leads directly to the front door of each apartment.
Named Yotsuya Tenera, the block is located in the dense neighbourhood of Yotsuya, where residential buildings are positioned amongst a number of historic temples and shrines.
These apartments each have a different layout, which the architects explain as being either I, L, C, or T-shaped.
Concrete walls are exposed on the inside of the building as well as the outside and are textured with the grain of their larch plywood formwork.
The project was completed in 2010, but recently received an RIBA International Award.
Another interesting project by the same Japanese architects is a house designed around the movements of the client’s pet cat.
Photography is by Toshihiro Sobajima.
There's more text below from Key Operation:
The project site is in Tokyo, Yotsuya is located in a quiet residential area right behind the Shinjuku Street.
This area holds many temples, shrines and also fairly dense housing. Like a spreading network of space, those houses and complexes fill the blank spaces between the streets and alleys.
In this scheme, 2 void spaces were provided within the building mass as functioning staircases. With these compact staircases, the floor area of the rental area is increased.
The void space is linked with each residential unit’s balconies as continuous Tree-Shaped Void Space and spread throughout the balconies, towards the gaps in neighboring residential buildings, the courtyard, the passage at the back, and the neighboring apartment corridors.
All the dwelling units have either balcony spaces or terraces.
Walking into a dwelling unit from the staircase, through the dwelling unit, and come out to the balcony, the staircase appears once again.The far end of each unit is linked with the entrance area at front through the void.
Keeping the great sense of privacy in the unit layout, this void is meant to create a sense of community and encourages interactions among dwellers. Concrete texture of this project is one of the important design criteria.
In comparison with the surrounding buildings, the volume of this complex is relatively larger, but it still balances up with the scale of the surrounding buildings with its appearance; harsh cast concrete finish was softened with wood texture to create friendly and harmonious appearance.