The disintegration of traditional models of living and working has led to a further disintegration of marketing methods of those models. Sumu Fumu Terrace by the Tokyo-based Nendo, takes the traditional marketing model of real estate and flips it on its head. It replaces the ‘model house’ in favor of a communication lounge for Sekisui House Ltd., a homebuilder company in Osaka, Japan. Instead of having a fixed exhibition space and an office, Sekisui House enjoys a flexible space that responds to a wide variety of functions and requirements.
Designed to simulate the environment of a coffee shop, the terrace removes the formality as well as the intensity of a traditional real estate marketing office. Here the clients and the agents are just having a conversation over a cup of coffee. This laid-back atmosphere is brought to life by the brilliant use of glass and greenery. The Japanese design studio headed by Oki Sato replaces traditional walls with large glass doors and windows. This enables penetration of ample natural light and air, which, when combined with the wooden floors and strategically placed plants, act as design elements in themselves.
The real triumph of Sumu Fumu Terrace, however, is in the planning. Two hundred aluminum frames hold glass panels to create a spatial labyrinth that, at its heart, holds a gallery. When walking the entire length of the labyrinth, one walks through the atelier, theater, cafelounge, meeting space, garden, gallery, and several multi-purpose spaces. This glass coil also connects to a design studio that helps connect the visitors to the designers. The frames themselves are equipped with provisions for shelves, hangers, hooks, and monitors, allowing any of the multi-use spaces to be transformed into display areas, workshop areas, gallery areas, and more.
There is an ease and understated elegance to the space, which can largely be attributed to the clever use of foliage throughout. The plants of varying heights and depth counteract the reflection of light on the glass planes and give the entire lounge some much needed character. The glass panels mean the entire lounge is visually connected and feels open and inviting with curtains, shades, and blinds providing segregation and privacy when needed.
The furnishings, such as the material display tables and modern seating, are just a reflection of the lounge itself. Clean lines with no-fuss functionality keep the space light and airy. It is this combination of visually slender furnishings and transparent walls with multiple points of ingress and egress, that keeps the space from feeling overbearing and claustrophobic – something that would be a real risk otherwise.
“Two hundred frames are arranged in a spiral shape with plants in between, to gently divide the large space with a sense of ambiguity to one’s whereabouts. Floor materials and ceiling louvers of two subtly different colors, applied in the same alternating directions, highlight the visual effect. The space is a good example of freedom and diversity created by the gradual partition with glass doors, which neither restricts the use of space nor human activities,” explains Nendo.
The space that Nendo has created is beautiful and far removed from any tradition office design. It mirrors more naturally occurring spaces filled with light and greenery. More importantly, it is multi-functional. The way people live, work, and play is constantly changing. It is changing much more rapidly in a post-pandemic world. This rapid evolution brings with it a need for spaces that are designed to be more than one thing, whether it be homes, offices, or community spaces. Nendo takes this need and runs with it to create a truly transformational space that can be used for commerce, culture, and caper alike.