Flower Shop H

JA+U : Flower Shop H by Office of Kumiko Inui © Shinkenchiku-sha

Since her debut in 2000, Kumiko Inui has upheld the philosophy to “accept the site as it is, but to further enrich it through architecture”. The flower shop is located on the edge of Tokyo’s Hibiya Park. Across the street, loom large stone-clad buildings, such as Imperial Hotel and Nissay Theatre.

JA+U : Flower Shop H by Office of Kumiko Inui © Office of Kumiko Inui

Plan courtesy of architect

The 100 m2 (1,076 ft2) flower shop is broken into five independent buildings. This move helps the shop become porous. This collection of small-scale blocks placed along the busy street references the hard cityscape opposite.

JA+U : Flower Shop H by Office of Kumiko Inui © Office of Kumiko Inui

“No ceiling... Like a scenery in Mount Koya where the cedar trees are too tall, and only the trunks are visible.”

Sketch courtesy of architect

JA+U : Flower Shop H by Office of Kumiko Inui © Office of Kumiko Inui

“Kasumigaseki government office buildings peeking out behind the park. Duality. Perfectness of a paradise. Perfectness of the unreality.”

Sketch courtesy of architect

The seemingly contrasting contexts – forested park and heavy stone buildings – prompted Inui to create tall arcadian spaces with column-like corners.

JA+U : Flower Shop H by Office of Kumiko Inui © Shinkenchiku-sha

From within, the pillars have the scale and distribution of tree trunks. The division between the glazed units and the exterior becomes uncertain.

JA+U : Flower Shop H by Office of Kumiko Inui © Office of Kumiko Inui

“The ceiling starts to lose its presence (as it becomes proportionally tall)... It becomes un-architectural... It becomes outside-ish...”

Sketch courtesy of architect

JA+U : Flower Shop H by Office of Kumiko Inui © Office of Kumiko Inui

“Small architecture, in comparison to the surrounding buildings. Low architecture = excitement in high rise architecture. “Small Giant”. Vigor of architecture. Sense of openness. Small but strong = unusual proportion. Too pretentious as a box to contain activities. Subtle = surprise.”

Sketch courtesy of architect

Inui intended to play with the occupant’s sense of scale. The space inside the units appears taller than their actual height – 6.13 meters (20.1 feet) – because these rooms are taller than they are wide.

JA+U : Flower Shop H by Office of Kumiko Inui © Office of Kumiko Inui

“The ceiling becomes more visible as the space expands. The size of the space according to the angle of the vision.”

Sketch courtesy of architect

JA+U : Flower Shop H by Office of Kumiko Inui © Shinkenchiku-sha

The tall openings provide unobstructed views of the park from the interior, further blurring their borders.

JA+U : Flower Shop H by Office of Kumiko Inui © Shinkenchiku-sha

JA+U : Flower Shop H by Office of Kumiko Inui © Office of Kumiko Inui

“By breaking down the building into small pieces, each piece becomes taller because the width narrows. Seen from afar – mass. Seen up close – separate buildings.”

Sketch courtesy of architect

The separate buildings, although much shorter (7.5 meters or 24.6 feet), playfully mimic the proportion of the surrounding high rises.

JA87 Autumn 2012 is dedicated to a Tokyo-based architect: Kumiko Inui. Over the coming weeks, we plan to cover a range of the projects detailed in this issue and interview Inui herself.