Irumando Coffee

Irumando Coffee

Architect
senbunnoichi
Location
Tokyo, Japan | View Map
Project Year
2020
Category
Shops
Miho Urushido

Irumando Coffee

senbunnoichi as Architects

The Kodenmacho neighborhood of central Tokyo was for over half a century home to a beloved camera store called Irumando. Our task was to convert the camera shop into a modern-day coffeehouse while preserving its history and name. With memories of the camera store as our starting point, we considered several designs, imagining customers musing about the passage of time over coffee.

photo_credit Miho Urushido
Miho Urushido

The building is small, with less than thirty-three square meters of floor space on each of its two levels. To take full advantage of this limited space, we constructed vaulted ceilings to blur the edges of the rooms and installed dim lighting to create a mysterious, other-worldly atmosphere.

photo_credit Miho Urushido
Miho Urushido

The café achieves an effective blend of tranquility and spiritual depth, evocative of the special huts used for Japanese tea ceremonies. Our key design innovation was to turn this dimly lit, confined space into a camera obscura. The Latin term “camera obscura” means a “dark room.” It refers to an early type of camera that harnesses a natural optical phenomenon.

photo_credit Miho Urushido
Miho Urushido

The camera obscura device is also called a pinhole camera, which was used in ancient Greece and China. In the café, when light passes through small holes in the wall beside each table, an inverted image of the streetscape is projected onto the opposite wall of the coffeehouse.

photo_credit Miho Urushido
Miho Urushido

This creates ever-changing abstract reflections of the outside world, inviting customers to contemplate the transient, elusive images. Tokyo is a place where architectural heritage is prone to disappear due to continuous urban development. In this age of uncertainty, Irumando Coffee recalls the days of the former camera shop and the passage of time through both its name and design.

photo_credit Neoplus Sixten Inc.
Neoplus Sixten Inc.

We have sought through this project to lovingly preserve and pass on narratives of the city.

Team:
Architectural design: Senbunnoichi Inc. (principal architects: Yoji HAYASHI, Shinichi MAMIYA, and Kazumi MURAYAMA)
Project management: Shinichi MAMIYA and Ryoken KAMIYA

photo_credit Miho Urushido
Miho Urushido
Project Credits
Architects
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