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Monday, March 05, 2012

Tsutaya Books

Tsutaya Books in Tokyo, Japan by Klein Dytham Architecture, 2011

Photographs are by Ken Lee, from Flickr, used with permission.

Even as bookstores around the world shutter as devices like the Kindle and Nook swerve the market to ebooks, new things are still happening in the world of books. The recent opening of Tsutaya Books in the Daikanyama district of Tokyo is one such example, a slight beacon of optimism. The bookstore is actually just one part of Daikanyama T-Site, the three-building "village" designed by Klein Dytham Architecture that includes other retail tenants. Tsutaya Books itself also sells music and movies and houses a cafe and lounge, making the place a social one as much as it is commercial.

Klein Dytham won a design competition for the project, beating out 70 other architects from Japan. An article at Wallpaper* quotes partner Mark Dytham on not being a favorite for the design competition, "but integrating the brand into the very fabric of the site and structure appealed to Tsutaya's owner, Muneaki Masuda, who wanted to do something completely different. This is also the case with the interiors, for which we worked closely together to create a new cultural experience."

The branding that he is referring to is working the T-shaped logo into the site plan and the building shapes, but most overtly it's the distinctive perforated screen facade. A single bowed, T-shaped module is repeated across the facades, leaking inside in parts as well. The pattern graphically works like a weave, but each part clearly reads as a "T". It gives the buildings a needed texture, balancing out the glassy expanses and the interior's clean lines and warm tones.

Photos of the interior suggest an atmosphere conducive to browsing but also relaxing and hanging out. The bookstore's various spaces blur any distinctions between the various parts of the store, such that books and other items are on display by the lounge, for example. Interesting interior touches include a children's section with little hideaways, counters supported by stacks of books (an acknowledgment of a near or distant future?), and a stunning hammered steel stair that sits as an object in space. A lot is going on -- architecturally, commercially, socially -- and that's a pretty good example for other bookstores, even ones a fraction of Tsutaya's size.

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