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Klein Dytham Architects transform two floors of a nondescript office building in kamakura.

The work of KDa continues to exploit the intriguing condition of its directors, Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein. Describing themselves as dislocated, they have refused to settle as typical expats. Taking no sight for granted, inspiration comes from their surroundings. With heightened senses, they observe apparently mundane situations and play them back with a twist, to create new fusions.



This latest project for web design firm Kayac is such a fusion, addressing the practical needs of a growing business, while reinterpreting a number of familiar Japanese devices. The project also served to resolve the architect's divided view of IT technology; Astrid Klein supporting the cause of WAC (women against cables) and Mark Dytham that of MEC (men enjoy cables).

The challenge in this instance was to improve the typical web-cell environment that most companies settle for. Exploiting the relatively generous 4.5m ceiling height of the lower floor, KDa proposed a raised island of tatami mats, fitted out in traditional style with cushions and low tables to allow improptu meetings and group work. Into this is set a horikotatsu, a dug out (conference) table, more typically found in traditional Japanese restaurants, with the leg well providing more comfortable seating. Around this tatami island, is a continuous wooden desk - with fully integrated accessible IT kit - that KDa have called the engawa desk, referring to the transitional zone between inside and outside that is so fundamentally embedded in traditional Japanese architecture.

An engawa usually takes the form of a narrow wooden veranda between the tatami mat floor of a building's interior and the surrounding garden, and applying this analogy here, KDa see the raised floor as a form of building interior, with the desk as an engawa and the circulation areas the garden.

Since completing the project, the company has grown to 60 people, which has led to the construction of a second engawa desk on the upper floor; a sure endorsement if over was needed, that this client is thrilled with their new environment.

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Title Annotation:delight
Author:Gregory, Rob
Publication:The Architectural Review
Date:Sep 1, 2008
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