Incongruous in their grey surroundings, these multicoloured buildings looks like something in a children’s playground, or perhaps an outsized set of toy building blocks. But these colourful constructions are Reversible Destiny lofts—rental apartments in Tokyo’s Mikata City. And the inside of these eccentric properties is just as extraordinary and confusing as the exterior.

But what is “Reversible Destiny” anyway? And how is living in a playful apartment supposed to make you immortal? We sent a reporter from our Japanese sister site Pouch to find out.

The nine lofts are the work of Arakawa and Gins, a husband-and-wife team of artist-architect-poets who believed that stimulating architecture could extend human lives. Their theory of “Architecture Against Death” states that by building challenging homes that don’t allow residents to get too comfortable, we can slow or even prevent the ageing process.

Inspired by Helen Keller, the deafblind author and activist who overcame monumental challenges to re-learn how to communicate, Arakawa and Gins’ “undying houses” are designed to make the impossible, possible.

But you can’t just rock up, knock on the door and ask to be shown around; these are residential properties, and the residents deserve their privacy, so the Reversible Destiny lofts can only be accessed on occasional tours or for educational events.

Approaching the flats, our reporter Sayaka was immediately struck by how colourful they were. The nine apartments, each of which comes with a special set of instructions for use, are decorated in 14 bright colours.


▼ Even the inside was super colourful!


The apartments are designed so that wherever you look, at least six colours will be in your eyeline at any one time. The brightness was overwhelming at first, but Sayaka noticed that she soon got used to it, and it felt totally normal.

Uneven flooring, combined with a sloping ceiling, creates the illusion of a rising and falling floor. But actually the difference in height is all to do with the ceiling. The irregular waves of sandy flooring looked like it’d be difficult to walk on, but our reporter found it surprisingly comfortable underfoot. In the bizarre surroundings, she suddenly felt more aware of her body, and the ways it was helping her.


On one side of the apartment is this round space, which creates an odd echo chamber. When you speak in the yellow circular space, the sound seems to reverberate in all directions.

▼ The echo chamber. “It was like bathing in sound!” said our reporter.


The kitchen is located in the centre of the apartment, dominating the space. Around it, there is little room for other furniture.

▼ No room for a couch? That does sound challenging…


However, the ceiling is equipped with hooks, to allow inhabitants to hang anything they like there. An electrical outlet on an extendable cord provides another eccentric touch.

▼ We weren’t sure if we were looking at the floor or the ceiling!


Each apartment space only has one door—everything else is completely open. As well as sensory experience, Sayaka felt, the Reversible Destiny lofts are designed to prioritise communication between people who live together there.

Of the nine properties, all five residential apartments are currently occupied. Two others are used as office and caretaking space, but the final two are allocated for visiting groups or as short-stay accommodation.

▼ That’s right, you can have a vacation here!


Prices for short stays vary depending on apartment size and season, but a seven-day stay (the minimum rental period) comes in at around 80,000-115,000 yen (US$660-950).

▼ Considering it includes a shot at eternal life, we reckon that’s not a bad price…


The stunning Mikata lofts are a testament to the ambition and creativity of Arakawa and Gins, but the couple did not survive to see its 10-year anniversary celebrations this year. When Arakawa died in 2010, Madeline Gills vowed to redouble her efforts to prove that “ageing can be outlawed”. But she too passed away last year, at the age of 72.

Original article by Felix Sayaka
All photos ©Pouch/RocketNews24
Additional sources: Reversible Destiny Lofts Mitaka, Mitaka Tenmei Hanten Jūtaku Facebook
[ Read in Japanese ]