How Small Is Your Apartment? -, 03/14/2008

The average apartment in Tokyo is just 774 square feet—but for architect Kumiko Inui those proportions would have seemed palatial: Her most recent Tokyo commission required her to design an apartment complex of 82-square-foot units.

While the primary challenge was to use space as efficiently as possible, Kumiko also thought carefully about how to produce a novel design. To start, she drew in floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing natural light to relieve the claustrophobia. Kumiko also removed the landing space in the stairwell—a subtle adjustment with a big effect: not only did it added extra room, it positioned the stairs differently on each floor. Because of this each unit has a different layout—some with an O-shape, some shaped like a U—giving the structure an appealing variance when viewed from below.

“When you look at the façade, you see different functions laid out on each floor. Above the living space, there is a toilet, and above the toilet there is a bath…It does not look as an apartment whose façade is usually a succession of something,” Kumiko explained.