© Assistant / Photography: Kenta Hasegawa

Although Japan is one of the planet’s most meticulously structured societies where form, function and etiquette seem to stifle any kind of creative spontaneity and innovation, surprising concepts of any kind do emerge on a regular basis. In the latter category falls Mura-Cekai, the new and hybrid office space of creative agency Cekai in Tokyo‘s downtown district of Shibuya. The company has  not only relocated its office, but quite interestingly, also opted for an interior design that easily adapts to different configurations and instantly ready for an full makeover. The company commissioned architects Megumi Matsubara and Hiroi Ariyama of local architecture practice Assistant to come up with a matching concept, and that became Mura Cekai.

The name is composed of Cekai, the name of the creative agency – mind you, in Japanese it means ‘world’, but it’s intentionally transcribed with a ‘c’ instead of an ‘s’ to reflect the irreverent approach of the practice – and the word ‘mura’ means ‘village’, and is used to reflect the community focus of the place and the fact that it’s made up of different individuals, groups and entities. Mura Cekai is situated on the ground floor and basement of a modern four-storey residential building tucked away in the maze of little streets northwest of Shibuya Station, and featured an interior that originally looked like an obscure parking space. The interior design builds on the utilitarian past of the space and sees the implementation of so-called ‘unfinished walls’ which push the tenants to go beyond walls, beyond their comfort zones.

The floor is drawn with 1m-grid white lines to visualize the Mura Cekai‘s primary rule: occupancy of the space is possible from per-square-metre. Also, in true village tradition, the community is managed by evolving self-made laws, such as the fact that each occupant should allow at least one side of his space to meet an open space for the general public. The aforementioned ‘unfinished walls’ aren’t real walls, but demarcations in any form and shape that follow the set 1m-grid lines, and this automatically leads to interaction of any kind among tenants. The ground floor features a reception area for guests and clients, but also a café, lounge, and even a full-fledged radio station. Location: Mura Cekai, 22-7 Moto Yoyogi-cho (Yoyogi-Uehara).

© Assistant / Photography: Kenta Hasegawa