c-MA1 involved the conversion of an 18-year old office building in central Tokyo, formerly a photo studio, into three residential units and an office suite. At the time of the project in 2003, the market for conversions in Tokyo was small; however the developer realized a potentially emerging market with several similar office buildings that were vacant in the city. Residential use was a profitable market conversion because living space was at a higher premium in that area than offices (original use), and more residential floor area could be added as an incentive for residential development offered by the local government.
The architect’s design approach was to enhance the characteristics of the original building (e.g. provide a higher floor height for residential use). The team attempted to drive market value by emphasizing the uniqueness offered by the original characteristics – taller floor heights of rooms (4.5m and 3.8m) and split floor levels with small stairs linking the spaces. Exposing the features of the original building was also intended to enhance users’ experience – blending the new with the old.