To achieve a high residential density on a deep, narrow lot, one surrounded closely by buildings on all sides, Akira Koyama + Key Operation notched the corners of its central Tokyo building design inward, forming six light wells along the length of the lot. These “voids,” designed to meet Tokyo’s building code, supply natural light and fresh air into the community’s lowest floors and farthest corners.

The Fudomae Apartment With Six Voids community consists of 15 studio and one-bedroom units across two buildings, one facing the street and one farther back in the lot. The buildings are separated by open-air corridors and stairways, which connect to a ground floor entrance passage from the street.

As a highly visible means of natural ventilation, the arrangement of the voids also provides a source of comfort in architecture for a “post-coronavirus” environment, inspired by Renaissance architecture that emphasized health and sanitation. The units are arranged to take advantage of natural light exposure from each of the voids, with internal corridors along the exterior walls and large window openings into the light wells. The solid street-facing façade provides privacy for sleeping spaces, and features a water-jet chipped finish to draw viewers’ attention away from window openings.

The unit architecture includes a number of accommodations for pet cats. According to the architect, while cats are the most popular pet in Japan, only 12% of Tokyo’s rental housing allow them—leading the development team to design Fudomae as a community specifically for cat owners. Among other features, the windows feature extra-large sills and lofts where cats can sun themselves, the bathroom offers extra ventilation for litter box placement, and interior doors allow residents to close off the entrance area to prevent escapes.