Design Volume 10: Atelier Bow-Wow: Behaviorology
Category: Architecture, Science
Author: Atelier Bow-Wow
Contributors: Terunobu Fujimori, Washida Menruro, Yoshikazu Nango and Enrique Walker
Publisher: Rizzoli New York
Atelier Bow-Wow is an architecture firm like no other, and a favourite of EQ3’s Creative Director Thom Fougere.
The Tokyo-based firm is a two-part team, made up of architects Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima. Known for their use of the urban vernacular, Atelier Bow-Wow follows the framework of “Void Metabolism,” designing small houses that fit between existing buildings and fill the gaps in Tokyo’s residential areas.¹
In their book Atelier Bow-Wow: Behaviorlogy (2010), Tsukamoto and Kaijima explore what it means to design a small house in a big, chaotic city. They present over 30 of their completed architecture projects, many of which are multi-level homes that take advantage of small, unused, and often awkward patches of land in Tokyo.
Each of the featured projects are truly unique, their real unifying factor being Atelier Bow-Wow’s extensive research on the behaviorology of these buildings, their environments, and their occupants. Whether its redefining the meaning of “a view” or re-imagining the stair landing as actual living space, the architecture of Atelier Bow-Wow challenges conventional space planning and design practices.
In Gae House, a main floor opening floods the half-basement home office with light. Atelier Bow-Wow (2003)
Windows stand in place of eaves troughs at Gae House, offering an unconventional view to the outdoors. Atelier Bow-Wow (2003)
Kus House makes the most of an oddly shaped lot with its stepped facade and its wall of windows that widen with each level. Atelier Bow-Wow (2004)
A cylindrical staircase connects the many levels of Kus House and provides structural support. Atelier Bow-Wow (2004)
In Tread Machiya, staircase landings serve as living spaces. Atelier Bow-Wow (2008)
Stair treads serve as surfaces for lamps, toss cushions and other objects in Tread Machiya. Atelier Bow-Wow (2008)
Tsukamoto and Kaijima’s House & Atelier Bow-Wow is a good example of their consideration towards a building’s behaviorology. Designed to function as Tsukamoto and Kaijima’s residence, as well as Atelier Bow-Wow’s head quarters, this semi-public building is nestled so tightly between adjacent houses that it is barely visible from the street.
Atelier Bow-Wow’s answer to these spatial constraints were exterior walls that slant inward to meet code, and large window openings to frame neighbouring houses (a mere 1 to 2 metres away). In this way, they connected their interior to its environment, rather than fought against it.
This section drawing from Atelier Bow-Wow and shows the studio / residence’s many levels.
This video tour of House & Atelier Bow-Wow offers another perspective.
House & Atelier Bow-Wow is designed with a slanted exterior to meet code. Atelier Bow-Wow (2005)
Large window openings face neighbouring houses, connecting the interior of House & Atelier Bow-Wow to its surroundings. Atelier Bow-Wow (2005)
Essays written by contributing professionals in architecture, art and sociology break-up the catalogue of work featured in Atelier Bow-Wow: Behaviorology. The book closes with a look at the art installations (or “micro public spaces”), furniture and other smaller bodies of work that have garnered Atelier Bow-Wow much international attention. You can learn more about past publications from Atelier Bow-Wow here.
1. Atelier Bow-Wow, Terunobu Fujimori, Washida Menruro, Yoshikazu Nango and Enrique Walker (2010). Aterlier Bow-Wow: Behaviorology. Page 13. Location: New York, New York. Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.
2. Archinet.com, Atelier Bow-Wow Tokyo Anatomy (interview with Yoshiharu Tsukamoto)