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A cup of tea with... Tetsuya Mizukami Architects

Tetsuya Mizukami, born in 1981, after his experience at Mount Fuji Architects Studio, began his professional activity and immediately his merits allow to receive several awards in the design / architecture categories and numerous publications in sector magazines. His methodology is centered on the relationships that the building establishes - with the territory, with the existing buildings, between the internal functions - and it is a process that he replicates in all his designs.

In his most cherished work, the Community Mall for all Generation (2015) in Miyazaki prefecture, he emphasizes the importance of the courtyard, as a useful space for bringing light and air into the building but above all as a space for generating relationships.


Let's start with the first question to break the ice: How do you get your tea?

I drink tea on a daily basis, especially I often drink it when I want to calm down.

To this day, what do you think is your most significant and representative work of your design approach? Is there a project that you consider emblematic to tell who are you?

If I had to choose one project from all the work I have done so far, it would be the Community Mall for all generations at Aburatsu shopping street in Nichinan city.

It is community center that plays a role in revitalizing the region in a declining shopping street having vacant lots in Nichinan City, Miyazaki Prefecture.

This is a reactivation project of the shopping street, and I renovated the steel-framed building, which had been built as a supermarket and was no longer in use.

There is an exterior space of courtyard created by partially reducing a building on the same scale as the vacant lot dotted around the shopping street.

“ By reduction of building creates a courtyard”, this is the almost all for the design operation of this project.

The courtyard has several functions;

1. It serves an environmental device to bring light and wind into the stagnant shopping streets and facilities.

2. It divides a large building into two buildings, so that it can be assigned to two different functions: a meeting place and a restaurant.Consequently we can keep the running costs low, making it easy to operate the facility.

3. The area of ​​one building is reduced by segmenting the two functions to avoid the restriction of interior design, and it made possible to be used a large amount of local specialty, Obisugi, at low cost.

4. Using the courtyard to resemble the vacant lots of the surrounding area, and seeing potential in the existing vacant lots, yet these indicate a city planning drawing a blueprint revitalied the shopping street in the future.

5. Opening up the land of private companies to the city like a public infrastructure, thus removing the boundaries of the site and practicing the publication of private assets.

Since architecture exists continuously, it is necessary to consider about what it means to create the courtyard and whether it's a transient design.

This design approach is common to all projects.

I’m interested in the boundary between inside and outside of building, coexistence with others not in my design domain, and also homogeneity

and margins (void).The latest work, "NODA NO KODOMOEN,” is also an architecture that clearly shows what I am thinking.

noda( © Kenichi Suzuki)
nichinan ( © Kenichi Suzuki )

What do you think is a decisive project (of others) for your professional career? Who do you consider your teacher or an important reference for your work?

It is Department of Human Environmental Design, Lab Studio Building (completed in 2005) by Professor Yoshio Uchida.

The building was consummated based on the themes, that he has been studying for many years, of ”technology that bears the quantity" and "repair theory” .

It is a renovated building that has a roof on the courtyard which was an existing disused courtyard type of RC school building.It has exemplary answers to the program of an educational facilitiy, such as dense detail as an object necessary for architecture and margins and cracks created by the coexistence of others other than the designer due to the renovation.

What will be the direction for the future of Japanese home architecture? Climate change, the aging of the population, the evolution of our daily habits due to the pandemic, which changes can affect the living spaces of tomorrow and how?

I hope that the pandemic will be an opportunity for people to realize what is essentially natural: the abundance of people's coexistence with the natural environment. For instance, modern life clearly separates the inside from the outside and is controlled by mechanical air conditioning. I believe that it is richer to live with the diversity of the natural environment than to be confined in a man-made environment.

Due to the real problems of declining population and income, I think that it will be promote trend toward renovation rather than new construction home and that people rather live with multiple generations than nuclear families. And then I think it will be more sharing than individual ownership.


Tetsuya Mizukami Architects

1981 Born in Fukui, Japan

2003 Bachelor of Engineering in Architecture, Toyo University/ Worked for Environment Design Atelier Office

2004-2006 Worked for WORKSTATION Office

2009-2013 Worked for MOUNT FUJI ARCHITECTS STUDIO Office

2013 Established Tetsuya Mizukami Architec & Associates

2014- Teaching at Toyo University

2017- Teaching at Musashino Art University

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