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Architects turned an illegal sex shop in Japan into an art gallery

It’s a bit small for an art gallery and studio, but as the old saying goes: “It’s not the size that matters, it’s how you use it!”

Japanese firm Persimmon Hills Architects has redesigned an illegal sex shop into a studio and gallery. Renovated for Yokohama’s annual art festival, which sees the Koganecho Districts as a temporary open-air exhibition venue, the place cleverly cuts itself in half to maximise space.

From the outside, the apartment looks tiny – something completely unlike most galleries. But once visitors step inside, they’ll realise that the space is actually bigger, thanks to a diagonal wall that adds more surface area for paintings to be put up.

A sex shop turned into an art gallery

The second floor, meanwhile, is also fully utilised to serve both as a viewing point for more art, as well as a small studio. The lighting and the glass doors and windows also help in making the place more inviting to passers-by.

We caught up with Persimmon Hills Architects to know more about their work. Check it out:

A sex shop turned into an art gallery

What was the project brief?

“This project involved redesigning the former illegal sex shop (common name is chonnoma) to the artist in residence as part of Koganecho Bazaar 2016, an art festival held every year since 2008, in Koganecho area of  Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture.”

Seeing as the place was a former illegal sex shop, what did it look like when you found it?

“We felt that the spatial organisation the existing small building had was too narrow for the frontage and too deep with its depth. This caused activity inside to be hidden from the town.”

A sex shop turned into an art gallery

Art galleries are often huge and spacious. How were you able to create a gallery with only 20sqm of space?

“The existing buildings had only 20 square meters, but we converted the smallness to something positive by depth and height manipulation.

“The slanting wall maximised the exhibition walls and changed the distance between people and art. Although it is narrow, as visitors go around the inside, the distance to art changes rapidly.

“In addition, the opening window of the slanting wall created a viewpoint that changed that distance. This art gallery stimulates both the sensation of the exhibitor and the viewer.”

A sex shop turned into an art gallery

What’s your best advice to young architects when it comes to designing small spaces?

“(We are also young architects…) It is we should not care what is small or big in architectural design.”

To know more about Persimmon Hills Architects and their work, head on over here.

A sex shop turned into an art gallery

A sex shop turned into an art gallery

Via Design Boom

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