Penshirubiru: Collective Housing in Japan Taken to its Limits (TC Quadernos)
Luis Manovel Mariño, Alberto Nicolau
General de Ediciones de Arquitectura, 2021
Japan is undergoing a change. In its cities it is observed how a series of buildings with common characteristics are appearing that rise above their fabric like trees in a dense forest of buildings. These buildings are identified by their great slenderness and their reduced floor space. They call them ‘Penshirubiru’, which can be translated as pencil buildings. They are multi-purpose buildings, often dedicated to collective housing, although exceptionally there is also the case of a house-building for a single owner. They have an extremely small footprint, so much so that only the surface dedicated to vertical communications can occupy half the floor. They rise in height above these minimal lots forming slender pieces, like a standing pencil, hence their name.
When they appear grouped in the same street, it is inevitable to remember the image of a pencil box in use, in which each one has a different length. This new home is undoubtedly a response to the new social model that has generated a majority of single-person households and to a citizen economy based also on this marked individualization and current daily routines that once again tend to this reconcentration of citizens around to very dense areas and with a great mix of uses.