Pan Projects and Haruki Oku Design have renovated a fashion store in Tokyo to create adaptable retail and events spaces.

Renamed The Playhouse, the building for the Vulcanize fashion store in the Tokyo was directly informed by the theatre with a dramatic facade animated by moving curtains.

The Playhouse in Tokyo by Pan Projects

London-based Pan Projects worked with Tokyo studio Haruki Oku Design to renovate the three-storey building, which had all its interior elements removed to create flexible spaces.

“We basically removed all the existing interior elements to simplify the space to have one big open space where movable walls can come in,” Pan Projects co-founder Kazumasa Takada told.

Curtain at Tokyo fashion store

Designed to be both an entrance area and a performance space for 50 people, The Playhouse’s atrium in Tokyo was conceived as a fly tower – the expansive open volume that sits above a theatre stage and holds its rigging system.

It was wrapped in a large, moveable curtain hung from an aluminium frame suspended from the ceiling beams, using wires connected to a winch that is hidden behind the ceiling.

Metal-covered plywood walls

“The ground floor is designed to be used not only for goods sales but also to accommodate multiple events such as workshops, music events and fashion shows,” Takada said.

“This movable curtain transforms the entrance area into a temporal show stage which can accommodate up to 50 audiences,” he added.

“The curtain stays up when the store provides regular services, but it comes down when there is an event happening in Tokyo.”

Caffe Latte Modern Home
Cafe at The Playhouse

Beyond the entrance, the ground floor is divided into different sections by a number of moveable, rotating walls made from plywood with aluminium, copper and brass finishes. These are manoeuvred using rotating shafts attached to rails in the ceiling.

Along with drapes hung from the ceiling, these create pop-up shops for brands that occupy space within the Vulcanize Tokyo store on a month-by-month basis.

Pan Projects' design for Ayoama fashion store

The idea of referencing theatre and performances when designing the interior came from a wish to revisit shopping experiences previously found in Aoyama, which used to be a “mecca for street cultures”.

“What inspired us is the radical shift of shopping experience where online shopping became more popular due to the pandemic,” Takada said.

“This rapid shift indicates the sales of goods are not fully depending on physical stores but rather happening online.”

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“We analysed this shift with the clients and decided to create the physical store in Tokyo as a cultural venue where customers can understand the culture of the brands more through diverse events,” he added.

Other recent Tokyo store designs include an Hermès store designed to evoke aspects of Japanese nature and culture and a Louis Vuitton store in Ginza wrapped in an undulating pearlescent facade.

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