Kosaku Matsumoto has recently renovated a small retail space previously used as a barber shop in Shirokane, Tokyo. The owner had no specific request for the renovated building, except for it would be used as an apparel showroom several times a year.
“In order to discover more from this banal space that has no particular feature or use, I decided to proceed and redesign the space while staying on site,” explains Matsumoto. “What I noticed during my stay was that the street in front of the property—seemingly deserted shopping avenue—is, in fact, populous throughout days and nights, thanks to large corporate buildings and embassies nearby. Inside this building, however, was somehow gloomy, lending a cave-like ambience to the space. Given that the renewed architecture will be used by a limited number of people, I attempted to positively expand the nature inherent to the space as I felt it to be while on site, and imagined how the space can be turned into a place like a cave—natural as it is, and devoid of any preconditioned use.”
Kosaku Matsumoto saw the existing space as depicting a cave-like ambiance and chose to incorporate it as a main theme in his design. A cave, natural and devoid of any preconditioned use, was the starting point for the architect’s concept. To achieve this goal, Matsumoto hid the most functional objects – lights switches and outlets – to expose the natural materials of the space’s interior surfaces.
The furniture on the front is made of baked cedar coated with epoxy resin, and the blackened wall surface has a dimly reflection of the entire space like a large cast of shadow. Looking closer, you will see the rough texture of the baked cedar beyond the surface, and the impression of the material changes according to the distance and time. Other materials were selected and developed to enhance their characteristics of multiple layers of impressions.
The facade of the existing building was covered only halfway with decorative bricks, but it possessed a unique and attractive look. Matsumoto chose to leave the bricks as he found them, and create a new aesthetic for the facade, by using the bricks as the foundation of the new surface layer built on top.