Have you ever wondered why there are many houses with unusual shapes in Japan?

If you were looking for an affordable piece of land to build a house in Tokyo, you would seldom find a lot bigger than 700 square feet.

And then, you would need to take the building-to-land ratio regulated by the zoning ordinance into consideration. The footprint of the house will be much smaller than the size of the lot.

But, that’s not the end of the story. After decades of subdivisions, the tiny land could have an awkward shape which leaves almost nothing to build a house for a family.

If you look at the suburbs, for instance a place one hour from central Tokyo by train, the land will be slightly bigger, but you will still need to face the low building-to-land ratio and possibly the irregular shape of the land.

In the case of “Natural Splits” designed by Masaki Endoh of EDH (Endoh Design House), the land is generously sized at 1600 square feet but it has a narrow L-shap in tight proximity to the neighboring houses. The irregular shape of each room/space creates gaps and openings for the light or a small outdoor space.

all images: © EDH, all rights reserved.