Okomeya by Schemata Architects

This beautiful new specialty rice shop named Okomeya is located on a diminishing shopping street – Miyakawa Shotengai – in the Togoshi Koen area of Tokyo. The street used to prosper with an array of small individual shops, but it has declined substantially and many have closed. As a consequence, the street has become a so-called shutter street, on the verge of disappearance. Design firm Owan Inc, which also operates a roastery/coffee shop and a café on the street, is striving to reactivate the shopping street and Jo Nagasaka / Schemata Architects was commissioned to renovate a former wooden vegetable shop into their next venture: a speciality rice shop. The designated building has a typical layout, with the shop space facing the street and the residence of the owner located in the back. Due to this traditional design the shop is very small, measuring only 16 m², which was beautifully adjusted into a perfect hybrid of the original building combined with elegant and pragmatic touches for the new purpose of the space.

Besides the reactivation of the neighborhood, the urban initiative also supports the social network between neighboring shop owners as they believe a good relationship between them is crucial for the maintenance of their shops — when the only person operating the small shop has to leave for a short time, the neighboring shops can keep an eye on the rice shop and the other way round due to the open store fronts. Making the project’s ambition an allround revitalization of both the former glory of the street as the reinstallment of the traditional values of the shotengai.

The shop looks very modest and does not stand out by itself, but we expect to raise people’s expectation by continuously regenerating more shops to enhance the entire street.

The shop design is kept very simple and low-cost. The building was very old and run-down, but it was decided to renovate the old building entirely, as well as the shop space, instead of tearing it down. The existing structures’ surface – such as columns and the existing woodwork – were all sanded, until it matched the color of new lauan plywood used for newly designed furnishings. As a result the overall space gained a clean and refreshed appearance, in which the old and new elements form a beautiful and inspirational hybrid.

For more information and inspirational work by Tokyo-based firm Jo Nagasaka / Schemata Architects see here.