Being near the creator Vol. 7. Urban Developer Kazuki Koike and T-shirt

NEWS nanamica

Our clothes is something that is closest to us. It acts as an intermediary between “self” and “society,” it protects the body and soul, and at times speaks more about ourselves than words. What goes through the mind of creators in various fields when they choose their clothes?


There is work that creates a "new flow" in the city, a large community. Kazuki Koike, who works as a real estate developer in a major company, is currently preparing to launch a complex facility in Ikejiri-Ohashi. With a focus on both culture and economy, he is making efforts to connect the city to the next future based on this central hub.


First of all, when you hear the term "real estate developer," what kind of image comes to mind? Someone who seems to have money, perhaps? Koike-san explains his own work as follows.


"I launch and execute urban development projects centered around real estate, taking into account the history and characteristics of the city. This involves managing budgets, designing concepts, and selecting teams to be involved. I also make detailed decisions, such as choosing the materials for the walls at the construction site. The value of a city is multifaceted, and it's not just about focusing on whether it will be profitable or solely emphasizing culture and traditions, as that alone may not lead to sustainability. Because it is a large and uncertain undertaking, constant verification and learning are necessary. While there are challenges, I believe there is potential in creating a large-scale cultural hub in Tokyo."


Mr. Koike is serving as the project owner for the complex facility called "Ohashi Kaikan." Located a 3-minute walk from Ikejiri-Ohashi Station, this 7-story building was originally used as a company dormitory and has been renovated into a space where restaurants, galleries, offices, and a hotel-apartment blend together in a mutually complementary manner. The facility is currently under construction and is scheduled to open at the end of June 2023.


"On the ground floor, there will be a restaurant operated by Terrain, which is active in Tokyo and California, as well as a gallery by the globally renowned creative team CEKAI. The 2nd and 3rd floors will be occupied by shared offices and shops, while the floors above the 4th will feature a hybrid of residential and hotel accommodations. A sauna will also be included. Originally, there was another person in charge of this project, but I felt strongly that it was something I wanted to do and should do, so I raised my hand for it."


Mr. Koike talks about it rather coolly, but what kind of place is he striving to create with such determination?


"When I saw the building that became the foundation of Ohashi Kaikan, I had a sense that all the pieces came together as one. Ikejiri-Ohashi is conveniently located near Shibuya and Nakameguro, and it's an area that has seen the rise of charming independent shops, with hidden potential. I was also drawn to its unique architecture. Although I thought the building was a bit large, it is precisely because of its size that we can accomplish certain things. Collaborating with Creative Office 301, I want to create a cultural and living hub that is unlike anywhere else in the world, with the involvement of various creators. With these thoughts in mind, I spend my days looking at spreadsheets, attending meetings, and visiting the construction site."


Ohashi Kaikan is a project with a temporary utilization plan, which means it has a five-year time limit. The original exterior and interior are being preserved to minimize waste and maximize efficiency.


We have chosen to preserve the distinctive pillars on the first floor and use vintage furniture instead of creating new ones to ensure that this place can be utilized even after its designated period. We want to avoid wasting money and resources. Personally, I am fond of the name "Ohashi Kaikan." By keeping the original name instead of opting for a simple English translation, it adds a unique character. Historic buildings carry a charm that cannot be replicated today, and if we can connect it to the future in a new form, it would be wonderful.


Bringing new purposes to buildings that have emerged throughout history aligns with the concept of nanamica. It involves understanding archives deeply and making contemporary proposals. Koike-san also has a conscious approach to what he wears.


"Due to my work, I meet people from various professions, ranging from government officials to leading creators. In such interactions, clothing is often the initial impression and can influence how others perceive me. If I'm not seen as a peer, it becomes difficult to move forward. That's why nanamica's simple and clean T-shirts resonate with my mindset, attitude, and position."


Rather than expressing a prominent personality, Koike-san focuses on advancing large-scale projects through interactions with various individuals. There are likely many challenges that are not easily visible from the outside.


"Just when I thought I was immersed in financial calculations, I find myself having conversations with prominent creators. And on days like today, I visit construction sites. It's all part of my daily routine, so I prefer clothing that allows for a casual style. However, outdoor wear doesn't really suit me, which is why nanamica's clothing fits perfectly. It's clean, functional, and if you look closely, you'll see that it's not just simple as it may appear on the surface. Designing the entire concept and paying attention to the smallest details is something I value not only in my personal style but also in the projects I undertake."


When asked about the greatest joy he experiences in his work, Koike-san shared the following:


"I absolutely love spaces centered around food. Once this place is completed and we can all gather here for a toast, I believe it will be an incredible feeling. Seeing many people come together and enjoy themselves is truly rewarding. I aspire to create a place where people from all over the world can gather. Please come and visit us, I would love to have you here."


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Kazuki Koike
Urban Developer

Photo:Taro Hirano