Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins, whose moto is Architecture Against Death, unveiled a few months ago a small apartment complex in the Tokyo suburb of Mitaka that is anything but comfortable and calming. “People, particularly old people, shouldn’t relax and sit back to help them decline,” Arakawa insists. “They should be in an environment that stimulates their senses and invigorates their lives.”
Inside the apartments, known as Reversible Destiny Lofts, the floor of the dining room slopes erratically, the one in the kitchen is sunken and the study features a concave floor. Electric switches are located in unexpected places so you have to feel around for the right one. A glass door to the veranda is so small you have to bend to crawl out. You constantly lose balance, gather yourself up, and occasionally trip and fall. There’s no closet space; residents will have to find a way to live there. “[The apartment] makes you alert and awakens instincts, so you’ll live better, longer and even forever,” says Arakawa.
Completed last October, the apartments are selling for $763,000 each—about twice as much as a normal apartment in that neighborhood.
10 years ago the pair opened the Site of Reversible Destiny—Yoro Park in Gifu. The theme park consists of attractions designed to throw people off balance, made up of warped surfaces and confusing directions. Visitors often fall—but so far nobody has sued.
Arakawa and Gins hope the Reversible Destiny Lofts will catch on outside Japan as well. Each unit is made up of large concrete blocks that can be preassembled and mass produced. They are apparently in talks with interested parties in Paris and New Jersey about building similar complexes.