Had I only seen the plan for this project, I might have glossed over it. In this apartment complex in Japan, there are a lot of things going on that can be hard to pull off really well, namely diagonal and curved walls. Seeing pictures of the completed SMG by mejiro studio makes apparent that some of the moves that look almost cartoonish in plan can look surprisingly sophisticated when constructed. The limited color palette helps make the project look more serious, but the severity of the concrete and cinder block interior is teetering toward looking like a stylish prison.
During my final year of architecture school, I got in a surprisingly contentious conversation with my friend Mike about contemporary Japanese architecture, and whether it is better described as “intuitive” or “spiritual.” In hindsight, both are probably poor descriptors, but I still don’t think they are equally poor descriptors. Spiritual? Are you kidding me? It seems wrong in a few senses of the word; both as an understanding of immaterial values, and as something that contributes to a religious experience. Instead, many projects seem interested in evoking a feeling that is hard to describe because it just feels a certain way. Intuitively, I respond to projects like this one, in part because I’m not able to analyze the diagonal and curved walls the way I usually would, and in another part because I don’t know enough about this projects precedents. I realize it’s a bad argument, and proof of this may be that my friend Mike now works for a crazy, famous architecture firm on secret projects while I work in a research lab dodging rat excrement. Luckily, I have my spirituality to keep me buoyant when I am otherwise drowning in rat urine.