Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thinking Outside the Box

Thinking outside the box isn't so easy. It's especially difficult when your habitat is a box, like the countless cement cubicles that urbanites all over Japan call home. There's just no room for anything, even fresh ideas. While space usually comes at a premium in those cramped quarters, this Tokyo apartment unit (on the left) offers something unusual. Not only that, it's a steal at 55,000 yen (around 600 dollars) a month in a city where the rents are typically sky-high, especially in light of its convenient central location.

They say location is everything when it comes to real estate and maybe that explains the relatively low rental fee for this apartment. If you look closely at the floor plan, you'll notice that the architect has located the toilet bowl in a surprising spot, right inside the kitchenette (marked with a K on the drawing). I guess that makes it more of a kithenlet than a kitchenette but whatever you call it, it's an innovative use of space that never would have crossed my mind.

I've always thought of the porcelain throne as being part and parcel of the bathroom. Not so here in the land of the rising sun, where the defecation chamber is typically given its own individual place of honor, separate and ideally isolated from all other rooms in the living abode, including the bathroom which is rightly reserved for the bath alone. If you think of the commode as a stand alone fixture, I guess it only takes a hop, skip and a jump to see it as an appliance that could be plugged into just about any room in the home, from the living room to the portico, balcony, or wherever. The possibilities are only as limited as your preconceived notions and while one man's ceiling might be another man's floor, here in this neck of the concrete jungle one man's privy is also his kitchen.

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

That's exactly what my buddy Tommy T's first apartment in New York had, everything but the kitchen sink. He didn't mind too much though since he only washed the dishes when the set ran out maybe every couple of weeks. Then he would haul all the dirty china into the shower and kill two birds with one stone. Maybe it wasn't ultra sanitary but it sure beat taking a shower in the dishwasher.

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