Pet Architecture

Building in leftover urban spaces

Atelier Bow-Wow introduced the concept of ‘Pet Architecture’ to describe a unique typology of building which takes form in left over urban spaces. This type of architecture is not at the forefront of aesthetic design or advanced technology, but produces a unique characteristic of self-appropriation in cities which forces the users to make the most of smaller spaces.

Tokyo based architecture firm Atelier Bow-Wow coined the term in their 2002 publication, ‘Pet Architecture guide book‘ which documents their observations and fascination for micro-buildings. Atelier Bow-Wow collected photographs, drawings and individual stories about each ‘pet’ and took these findings as influence for their subsequent projects.

Yoshiharu Tsukamoto co-founder of Atelier Bow-Wow elaborates on the meaning of ‘Pet Architecture’ by saying-

‘Our society does not consist only of human beings. Various animals come into our lives as ‘Pets’, and they are given spaces to live… If decent buildings standing in decent spaces are considered ‘human beings’, small buildings standing with all their might in odd spaces would seem to be like pets in urban spaces.’

The term also lends itself to connotations of how we play with these spaces like they are pets. As seen in many of the examples, the buildings can be playful and not take themselves too seriously. Many key building features such as ventilation, entrances, stairs and windows become key elements of the structure, adding to the unusual aesthetic.

Examples of this architecture can be seen in one metre gaps between buildings, awkward street corners, spaces between roads, rail tracks and rivers. ‘Pet Architecture guide book’ focuses its observations in Tokyo which is renowned for its narrow streets and compact living situations. These low cost building are appropriated by coffee shops, restaurants, houses, bicycle shops, and many other uses.

Atelier bow-wow used this imaginative approach when designing there house and atelier in central Tokyo. ‘House Tower’ built in 2006 hosts 9 rooms connected with one central staircase creating an interesting juxtaposition of spaces. The plot of land measures 3 x 6 x 11.5m and houses workshops on the lower level and dwelling conditions above.

Agile City Pet Architecture

Agile City Pet Architecture

Agile City Pet Architecture

Examples from Pet architecture guide book

Agile City Pet Architecture

Agile City Pet Architecture

Agile City Pet Architecture

Images of ‘Tower House’ House and Atelier of Atelier Bow Wow


Interview with Yoshiharu Tsukamoto : www.uah.es