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The Shinjuku Coffeehaus is a coffee temple set in the Shinjuku neighborhood in Tokyo.


It is a contemplative space that invites people to enjoy the act of coffee drinking.

The project began with a simple idea.


It started with the idea of an object (vault) piercing the ground opening up at its surface. The underground structure embraces a cave-like/temple-like experience.

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Click to open detailed PDF of this map

In the initial phase of the design, the vault was sliced into 50 pieces.

*Eventually we decided to keep the vault's initial geometric purity.

But the intention to tell the coffee's narrative was essential in all design motifs.

The 50 slices of the vault are broken down in the highlighted area above.

The idea was to mimic the dynamic life of the coffee before consumption. We gave a word for each step of the coffee process and designed each slice of the vault according to a word sequence. 

The words can be found in this document :















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The Topology Surrounding the Coffeehaus
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The Shibuya area of the city of Tokyo is highly dense, with high-rises gathered within small distances of one another. Our proposal inverts this condition, giving way for a different topology.

Bringing the program underground created the opportunity to give the street-level a break from the density. This street-level has the potential to become a green public space.

The image above of the street-level depicts part of the vault protruding out of the ground.


Here, an additional topological factor is taken into consideration in order to connect the coffee temple and its built environment. The thoughtful orientation of the vault's opening is directed towards one of Tokyo's most popular shrines, the Meji Shrine. ​

Computer Enhancement
Computer Enhancement of the Experience

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With the aid of a 6-axis robotic arm, we were able to carve parametrically designed clay bricks to be placed on the underground vault.

The bricks rapidly acquired intricate textures as well as openings that are accurately placed for optimal light manipulation.

The process is shown below.

attractor points

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*Openings were designed with the aid of basic parametric design techniques.

Image above

Brick openings are oriented towards the ground entries in order to optimize the amount of light coming in. The smaller openings are closer to the light letting less light in, while the larger openings are further away from the "attractor point" shown above, allowing for more light to come in where it is needed.

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closer openings let in less light

Further openings let in more light

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Images 1-3

The openings of the vault are shown above. Image 3 depicts the shadows projected on the wall after being filtered by the underground vault.


This video shows a 6-axis robotic arm carving into clay to form one of the bricks.


Wabi Sabi, refers to a Japanese philosophy that relies on roughness, earthiness, and the imperfect; such terms were used to define the aesthetics of the clay bricks of the vault.​

The Textures of the Coffeehaus 

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Image 5

Pottery work by Shiho Kanzaki.


Images 1-4

The pictures above show a series of different textures of the bricks made by the robot (refer to the Computer Enhancement tab).


The "natural"
Highlighting the "Natural" in Tokyo's Coffeehaus

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The "natural" is not so obvious in a city such as Tokyo. A city that is dense with people, transport, concrete, and advertisements. In other words, Tokyo has an abundance of "unnatural" elements. 

This is why we decided to use one of the most simple and present natural elements. The sunlight.

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Throughout different times of the day, the coffee temple is filled with patterns drawn by the sun's interaction with the bricks placed on the vault, as well as the bamboo and clay arrangements of its walls.

This play with natural lighting emphasizes the sun's role and enhances a temple-like experience.

Image 1

Light and bamboo evoking shadows on the clay wall.

Image 2

Light filtered through vault emitting shadows on one of the walls running parallel to the vault.

Images 3-4

Light filtered through the vault emitting shadows on the wall directly under it.

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