© Roland Halbe

Aqua Sports & Spa – Tokyo // COE Architecture International

Setagaya, Japan

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Text description provided by the architects.

This innovative building replaces the first private fitness club built in Tokyo. The six-story, 6,000 square-meter facility accommodates the club’s new emphasis on personal sports training, communal bathing and social activities. The design needed to bridge the wide gap between a utilitarian fitness club and a luxurious resort hotel. Although a private club, the design intent was to create a transparent building with a public presence, one with a serene and refined demeanor in sharp contrast to the frenetic surroundings of Tokyo.

© Roland Halbe

© Roland Halbe

© Roland Halbe

© Roland Halbe

The complex urban site and varied program provided the opportunity to explore Western and Japanese concepts of spatial definition and materiality. Designed in a striking minimalist aesthetic, Aqua Sports & Spa is the first project to be completed by COE Architecture International in Japan. The significance of the new Aqua Sports & Spa draws on a sensitivity Christopher Coe developed early in his career as a designer with celebrated architect Richard Meier on the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

The building is located on a steep hillside site, which was once part of a Tokugawa country estate containing hot springs, forests and a spectacular view of Mt.

© COE Architecture International

© COE Architecture International

© COE Architecture International

© COE Architecture International

Fuji. Today the site is bordered by a major highway, large apartment buildings, and small houses. But there remain large pockets of trees to the east and west which became primary considerations in the building design.The club functions are separated into sports and social spaces. Each assemblage of spaces is housed separately in white and dark gray concrete volumes which vary in scale related to their function.

© Kei Takashima

© Kei Takashima

© COE Architecture International

© COE Architecture International

The pool and gym are contained in the larger volume running north-south, parallel to the highway. The cafe and lounge are contained in the smaller volume which is oriented east-west to take in the unique tree-top views of Setagaya. These dominant volumes are carefully articulated with windows scaled to the spaces within.

© COE Architecture International

© COE Architecture International

© Kei Takashima

© Kei Takashima

The 50-meter pool is raised in the air, level with the highway and sidewalk which allow both private swimmers and passing pedestrians to visually engage each other.

Expressing internal functions within a refined massing of varying scale, the design negotiates the complex site and blurs the traditional boundary between private and public spaces and activities.

© Kei Takashima

© Kei Takashima

© Kei Takashima

© Kei Takashima

The striking minimalist design echoes an ancient calmness in opposition to the frenetic context.

COE Architecture International was commissioned by the local owner of the original Sports Connection and their American-based development partner to serve as the Design Architect for the building. In their role as their lead building designer, COE established the overall concepts and major themes for the exterior and interior design, as well as the landscape design.

© Roland Halbe

© Roland Halbe

© Roland Halbe

© Roland Halbe

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© Roland Halbe

© Roland Halbe

© COE Architecture International

© COE Architecture International

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