Bukatsudo: Yokohama Shipbuilding Dock Converted Into Coworking Space

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The Yokohama Shipbuilding Dock #2. It was used to build ships between 1897 – 1973. All photos by Munemasa Takahashi and Bukatsudo

In the late 1800s, British engineer Henry Spencer Palmer, along with financier Shibusawa Eiichi, built the Yokohama Shipbuilding Dock. It eventually grew to 3 different docks and, between 1889 to the late 1970s, was responsible for producing some of Japan’s most famous ships.

But as the tide of history turned, the building yard was eventually shuttered. But a multi-year effort to re-appropriate the historic land has resulted in the completion of a dynamic co-working space called Bukatsudo.

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Bukatsu, or after-school club activities, are an important rite of passage in junior high school life. After a long day memorizing kanji and attending classes, students will then go to their own bukatsu: it could be kendo club, cooking club, or physics club. Within the Japanese culture, this tradition provides an essential way for students to bond with classmates and make friends by sharing hobbies.

The city of Yokohama decided to take the bukatsu tradition to the next level. Architects and community members joined forces to reimagine a derelict shipbuilding dock into a useful hub for community activity, realizing a stunning co-working space that won the 2014 Good Design Award. If you can imagine your local YMCA located on the basement floor of the oldest stone shipbuilding dock in Japan, then you’ve made a great start towards understanding how special this place really is.

Bukatsudo offers its community a multiplicity of useful spaces: from inviting work lounges, to creative studio spaces, to six rooms that can be rented out for events and lectures.

Bukatsudo offers its community a multiplicity of useful spaces: from inviting work lounges, to creative studio spaces, to six rooms that can be rented out for events and lectures.

Welcome to Bukatsudo, a new co-working space that includes an atelier, a coffee stand, a kitchen, various co-working spaces, and more. Here, Yokohama community members can come together and share their interests, sip coffee, study, offer lectures and workshops, and thus enrich the city. Bukatsudo has become a valuable cultural asset to the city of Yokohama, designated as a nurturing space for fostering relationships and creative projects.

Visitors are encouraged, so drop-in to experience Bukatsudo’s vibrant community for yourself, for only ¥300.

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Nearby destinations are sweetly scrawled on floors and walls efficiently point you where you need to go.

The space was brought to life by a creative team led by Hiroyuki Tanaka Architects. Groovisions handled the art direction while the overall creative direction was done by Numabooks.

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A petite coffee-shop surrounded by stools with bent legs cushioned by large Persian rugs offers visitors a perfect place to take a breather.

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Private study nooks provide a concentrated working zone while open desk spaces offer plenty of opportunity to spread out and brainstorm a project with team-members.

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Wood and glass windows, suggestive of transparent Japanese paper screens, let workers rest their eyes into the room beyond.

2 Comments

  1. This is a FANTASTIC IDEA. The use of existing spaces retrofitted with GREAT DESIGN is both innovative and sensible. CONGRATULATIONS on such a remarkable outcome. I will visit BUKATSUDO in July 2016. Wonderful!

  2. They used to hold some wonderful outdoor performances in that space. I miss living and working in Yokohama.

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