Aiki, Embassy of Finland in Tokyo, Japan
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Programme: Finnish embassy facilities, including ambassadors residence and residential quarter
- Aiki was the winning design for the new Finnish embassy in Tokyo in 2009
- The building serves as the physical and cultural link between the two countries
- Silk-screen printed glass envelopes the building, balancing privacy and the flow of natural light
- Within the envelope open courtyards and terraces create a interior landscape
- Privacy and security determine the vertical spatial arrangement
- The project embodies the cultural expression of the two cultures
Aiki, is Lahdelma & Mahlamäki’s winning proposal for the Embassy Quarter of Finland in Tokyo. The scheme, designed in 2009, includes a comprehensive design of the main embassy and an overview of the adjacent residential units. Sadly, despite winning the competition the design has yet to be realised – a result of policy making decisions within the Finnish government.
The embassy in all its functions and services stands as the physical link between Finland and Japan – connecting two nations either side of the world. Aiki becomes the physical representation of this. It embodies the intersection of the two cultures, which despite a huge distance between then, have developed with surprising similarities and parallels.
Aiki has a duality. Externally it becomes shrouded from public view. Silk-screen printed glass wraps around the exterior, obscuring the internal goings-on modestly, yet elegantly. The envelope provides the privacy and security necessary for an embassy to function. Yet, at the same time, the façade allows in enough natural light to create interiors that don’t feel interior.
Internal views and open courtyard or gardens – within this enclosure – create an internal landscape. Voids left out of the grid system create four floor atriums, entire voids open to the sky and smaller terraces scattered throughout. Fresh air flows in to the more public areas of the building, whilst dappled light gets thrown around, creating endless shape-shifting shadows as the day goes on. A level of transparency and openness is brought into the building which is so rare in such buildings.
Privacy and security determine the vertical spatial arrangement and programme. The ambassador’s private residence, for personal living and official entertainment use, is kept at the top of the building. On this top level the floor plan wraps around open courtyards; private ones for the ambassador, and the ones that reach right into the heart of the building.
Aside from the architecture, Aiki is also given spaces to express Finnish culture. Space throughout the building is specifically allocated to Finnish art, and the entertainment spaces are naturally accompanied by a sauna.
Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects
Ilmari Lahdelma and Rainer Mahlamäki with Katri Rönkä, Sampsa Palva, Jukka Savolainen