A tiny slice of land on a busy Tokyo street corner has now become the setting for an office and gallery housed inside two matte black shipping containers. Tomokazu Hayawaka Architects split one 40-foot container in two and set the other on top to create an irregular composition that enables three separate spaces as well as a small courtyard filled with plants and seating.
Sliding glass and hatch doors flood the interiors of the gallery spaces with light, which are lined with wood inside due to Japanese building regulations. The third shipping container, on the second floor, is just large enough for a conference table.
Steel cable bracing gives the containers extra structural support to protect against earthquake damage. The stark black of the exterior contrasts with the bright white of the display space inside.
The new shipping container structure will become a hub for art and design in the neighborhood, which is the scene for a blossoming art culture.
“This site is located at Torigoe which is between Asakusa and Akihabara. Here is the old downtown area; there are many small factories for like leather product, paper craft and ornament. Client wants his small office and his wife is going to operate small gallery in this area.”
“We imagined the second-hand containers be put on this area, Thinking to worn-out container would be fitted to these small factories. 40ft (12m) marine container has one hatch on the gable side and normally picked up from outside. If be able to open the hatch from inside, inside activities will connect to downtown. We have proposed open building that information can be transmitted from inside.”
“We carefully planned the direction of hatches, cut two containers and stacked it. ISO (International Organization for Standardization) marine containers that circulate widely in the world are not allowed to be used as the main structure; because Japanese Building Standards Act requires the JIS (Japanese Industrial Standards) materials for structure.”