A modular system of prefabricated standardized building components, Tatami is designed to be a fast, precise, and affordable way to build.
Innovation inspired by tradition
Tatami takes inspiration from—and shares its name with—the gridded system of tatami mats at the heart of traditional Japanese architecture. A single tatami, whose dimensions are based on the human body, is a unit of measurement as well as a base module that generates the three-dimensional layouts of rooms. Similarly, Tatami’s rational, modular grid system allows a wide array of two- and three-dimensional arrangements, as units can be connected both vertically and horizontally.
The Tatami system is designed with smaller grids and micro-modules within each building unit, which allows for precision and flexibility in designing interior layouts and exterior elements like the windows, doors, and skylights.
Fast and functional
Tatami is designed to save time and minimize costs at every stage of the building process, from design and permitting to shipping and on-site installation. All building components are shipped via standard cargo containers—like flat-pack furniture or a large kit of Lego bricks. Typically, a small (30m²) Tatami unit can be erected by two trained installers in a single day.
Variety and flexibility
A variety of Tatami components package functional elements like windows, skylights, and even sleeping and reading nooks into standardized and prefabricated modules. These modules plug into—and can be detached from—the overall Tatami structure to meet to occupants’ needs now and in the future.
A green building material
Tatami’s environmentally friendly mass timber structure offers an affordable, renewable, and quick-to-assemble building material with the strength of steel and concrete and the environmental benefits of originating from sustainable forests. All Tatami structural members and components are recyclable and reusable in other Tatami units.
Japanese tradition meets
Tatami brings together the spirit of creativity and revolutionary thinking that has put California at the cutting edge of architecture and technology with New York City's legendary vision, ingenuity, and determination, as well as the reverence for quality, precision, and craftsmanship that has been a hallmark of Japanese design for centuries.
Tatami is the creation of a collaborative team of internationally recognized creative and intellectual partners working to rethink, from the ground up, a global approach to housing in the 21st century.
Han Lo is a New York-born architect and real estate developer. Over the past 20 years, he has created design-driven urban regeneration projects in the United States, Europe, and Asia, with a focus on the adaptive reuse of neglected or abandoned properties of architectural and historical significance. Since 2016, Han has also worked on developing social, economic, environmental, policy, and design solutions for affordable housing in metropolitan areas worldwide. He studied art and architecture at Harvard University, real estate at New York University, and innovation and entrepreneurship at HEC Paris.
Bureau Spectacular is an operation of cultural affairs based in Los Angeles and led by Jimenez Lai and Joanna Grant. The office engages culture through the contemplation of art, architecture, history, politics, sociology, linguistics, mathematics, graphic design, technology, and graphic novels. Established in 2008, Bureau Spectacular imagines other worlds and engages the design of architecture through telling stories. The practice was named Dezeen Emerging Architect of the Year 2018.
Prior to founding Bureau Spectacular, Jimenez worked for MOS Architects in New York and the Office of Metropolitan Architecture/OMA in Rotterdam. His work has been widely published and exhibited around the world and is part of the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In 2014, he represented Taiwan at the 14th Venice Architectural Biennale. Among Jimenez’s numerous awards are the Architectural League Prize for Young Architects in 2012, the 2013 Début Award at the Lisbon Triennale, and the 2017 Designer of the Future Award at Design Miami/Basel. He currently teaches at Columbia University and UCLA.
Nous Engineering is an innovative structural engineering firm based in Los Angeles. Since its founding in 2012, Nous has built a talented core group of engineers, designers and modelers; all of whom take great care when evaluating the design, constructability and value of our work for our clients. They employ the latest collaboration tools, BIM platforms and advanced analytical software. Their capabilities allow them to manage complex projects - large or small - and to develop and execute actual design solutions.
At their core is a collective passion for the work they do, a genuine pride in the quality of the work they deliver, and a persistent drive to make a positive impact on their industry and the world. Nous’ principals are lecturers, professors and advisers at progressive universities and architectural institutions including the Southern California Institute of Architecture, Woodbury University in Los Angeles, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UCLA, USC and other venues of forward thinking research in art, science, engineering and design.
Pentagram is the world’s largest independently-owned design studio.
Their work encompasses graphics and identity, architecture and interiors, products and packaging, exhibitions and installations, websites and digital experiences, advertising and communications. Their 23 partners are all practicing designers, and whether they are working collaboratively or independently, they always do so in friendship.
Their structure is unique. They are the only major design studio where the owners of the business are the creators of the work and serve as the primary contact for every client. This reflects their conviction that great design cannot happen without passion, intelligence and — above all — personal commitment, and is demonstrated by a portfolio that spans five decades and all industries.
Natasha Jen’s practice has been notable for crossing media genres, drawing on references from a diverse range of cultural, historical, aesthetic, and technological sources. Her work encompasses brand identities, environmental design, multi-scale exhibitions, signage systems, print, motion and interactive graphics, created in collaborations with universities and professional organizations, museums and galleries, and retail and fashion brands.
Tatami has a global mission as well as a global structure, with offices in New York and Tokyo.
Proposed ① multifamily housing blocks and ② single-family house, Los Angeles.
Production originates in both the United States and Japan, an acknowledgement of both countries’ unique strengths in manufacturing as well as Tatami’s global heritage and vision.
Proposed ① multiple housing blocks with green space, and ② urban infill housing, Tokyo
Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), Los Angeles
Mountain House, Japan
Delivery time for a Tatami house is six months. That timeframe will be reduced to 30 days once our automated production facilities are fully operational.
Tatami is currently accepting architect-customized commissions. However, a revolutionary e-commerce platform that will allow customers to configure their own housing solutions will launch in late 2019. Available both online and in our showrooms, the platform will offer full user-driven customization through an immersive and photorealistic virtual reality experience.
Mass-market US availability is expected to launch by the end of 2019, followed shortly thereafter by Japan. In the near future we anticipate rolling out internationally across 50 major metropolitan areas around the world, including Paris, London, Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Madrid, São Paulo, Milan, Moscow, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, and others.
In the ongoing search for solutions to the world’s housing needs, architects, developers, builders, entrepreneurs, and government agencies have looked repeatedly to modular and prefabricated construction.
Tatami's promise of being faster and more affordable than traditional one-off buildings has appealed to those who seek to equalize socio-economic disparity and inequality and make homes affordable and accessible to the widest possible audience worldwide.
It’s certainly not a new idea. In the United States, the catalog and department store company Sears, Roebuck sold “kit houses” by mail order from 1908 to 1940. Offering more than 300 models over the years, the Sears Modern Homes included most—but not all—the materials required for customers to erect their house in the roughly 30,000-piece kit that arrived at their doorstep. In the 1920s, the visionary architect and philosopher Buckminster Fuller proposed his famous Dymaxion House, which could be mass-produced, flat-packed, and shipped around the world.
After World War II, prefabrication and modular building again captured the imagination of visionaries around the world, from the more pragmatic high-tech designs of Norman Foster and Richard Rogers to the utopian fantasies of Archigram. In Japan, the rational and utopian architectural philosophy of the Metabolist movement, which combined ideas about modularity with organic growth processes, led to iconic buildings like the 1972 Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo. Designed by Kisho Kurokawa, the tower featured self-contained and prefabricated capsules that plugged into concrete cores and could be joined together to create larger modules and replaced over time.
Housing with a social conscience
Tatami’s flexibility and price point make it a viable solution for meeting urgent housing needs in a variety of contexts worldwide—from the most basic shelter, including refugee and disaster housing, to accessory dwelling units, multi-family housing, and large-scale developments. Tatami works with small-and medium-size developers as well as municipal, national, and international agencies with the ability to commission thousands of units for a variety of housing needs.
A solution for housing the world
Tatami’s mission is to be a global solution to a global crisis of availability and affordability. Because it is designed to International Building Code (IBC) standards and engineered for the strict seismic codes of Japan and California, Tatami has viability worldwide. The units’ exterior walls can be insulated for any climate, from tundra to the tropics, while a range of exterior cladding options works in a variety of esthetic and even cultural contexts, from the most traditional to cutting-edge modern. And since Tatami components are shipped like flat-pack furniture via standard cargo containers, they can be delivered efficiently and affordably virtually anywhere in the world.
At the forefront of sustainability
Tatami’s technologically advanced mass-wood structure, as strong and durable as steel and concrete, is one of the most environmentally friendly materials available. Sourcing from sustainably harvested forests means its fabrication requires little or no consumption of fossil fuels. All structural components and functional plug-ins are recyclable and can be reused in any Tatami structure.
Empowering people to shape their own futures
Tatami puts power in customers’ hands with a simple, intuitive, and transparent process that lets them design for specific functional needs as well as esthetic style and personality. Tatami’s plug-in elements and range of exterior cladding options create almost limitless possibilities for personalization.
Flexibility for life
Tatami’s functional plug-ins can be swapped out or replaced an unlimited number of times, so one’s home can evolve over time as one’s life changes—you don’t have to move whenever you need more (or less) space. Developers and landlords can refigure multifamily dwellings over time, calibrating the number and sizes of units in response to housing needs or market conditions. Since individual building components can be changed repeatedly over time and structures expanded and contracted, the lifespan of a Tatami structure is—theoretically—endless.
Minimally and efficiently designed with inspiration from traditional Japanese joinery techniques, universal connectors join all vertical and horizontal structural components and plug-ins.
Input your site address into our digital platform and it will automatically check for compatibility with local zoning and building codes.
Select a Small, Medium, or Large Tatami house unit. Work with our team to design interior layouts.
Select functional plug-in options including skylights, balconies, built-in beds, study nooks, and more, to personalize your home’s functionality and aesthetics.
Select from a range of exterior cladding options, including wood, brick, concrete and a variety of metals.
Select interior finishes, including bathroom materials and kitchen cabinetry.
All the components for your Tatami house will be flat-packed and shipped to your site for assembly by one of our trained contractors. Thanks to the efficiency of Tatami's modular construction system, installation of your home will only take between one day and one week.
Tatami’s revolutionary kit-of-parts approach to functionality packages windows, doors, skylights, balconies, footers, nooks with built-in furniture, and other functional elements into prefabricated modules that can easily be plugged into—and detached from—a Tatami unit. They are the key to Tatami’s unique approach to standardized customization. The plug-ins are offered in multiple sizes that correspond to fractional widths and heights of a full Tatami module—the mini-grids that allow greater flexibility in proportioning interiors and exteriors than other modular building systems. Prefabricated with the same mass timber technology as Tatami’s overall structural system, the plug-ins can be recycled or reused in other Tatami units.
Mass timber load-bearing columns that contain core functionality allow for specific architectural expression through horizontal and vertical expansion that is infinitely more specific than the stacking of boxes that is commonplace in other so-called modular building. Electrical conduits, ductwork, and plumbing lines are embedded within these individual structural elements instead of in a typical centralized core, thereby allowing vents, lighting, power ports, and plumbing fixtures to be located anywhere they are needed—and allowing them to be relocated easily over time.
Tatami’s renewable, recyclable mass timber structural system is the key to its flexibility and affordability. Mass timber describes a category of lightweight load-bearing solid or engineered wood framing materials, including cross-laminated timber (CLT). As architects and developers have embraced this leading-edge technology and more code agencies and municipalities worldwide have approved its use in construction, mass timber’s popularity has been increasing. Projects built with mass timber, including hybridized systems with steel and concrete, range from low-rise housing and university buildings to luxury residential towers.
Mass timber construction offers a number of benefits compared to other building materials. Prefabricated components are assembled under factory conditions that ensure precision and weather-tightness. Sourcing from sustainably harvested forests means its creation involves little or no consumption of fossil fuels. And mass timber inherently offers excellent fire resistance, thermal performance, and seismic resilience.
Tatami structures can be clad in a wide array of materials and finishes, including wood, concrete, brick, and metal, in a variety of architectural styles. Exterior cladding panels are prefabricated with the appropriate thermal insulation required by local building codes at the project location.