Click each drawing for a larger view.
Drawings © Takuro Yamamoto Architects
Here’s Takuro Yamamoto‘s statement on the design of the house.
This project started when the client family, who had a unique vision for their house, purchased an unpopular site (too large for typical Japanese houses, too small to divide into two) at reasonable price. Their vision demanded three points as listed below to be realized:
1- The house should give an impression as if it were a single large space, in which all family will be able to enjoy spaciousness and the sense of family unity.
2- No garden with plants or a lawn; they do not want routine maintenance.
3- No second floor should be made, because they do not like isolation of floors.
Their requests were opposite to those of typical ones, and we had to find a solution at an average building cost. But we felt some possibility to work it out because their requests are suitable to the untypical size of the site.
First, we included a courtyard fully covered with wooden deck to the house. In this case, we thought courtyard style is better than that with outer garden, because the site is larger than usual while floor space is limited by budget, so without plants or a lawn, outer garden would be too large and have no function. On the other hand, by inserting a courtyard into the middle of the house, it is possible to make internal views look more spacious, while the real internal floor space (which influences on the cost directly) is not so large. The existence of the courtyard is justified also from the view point of light and privacy, because the courtyard is well lighted thanks to the lower height of one-storied house, while the outer wall of the first floor needs to be exclusive no matter how many stories the house has. The wooden deck is introduced to the courtyard, not only to cover the soil from weed, but also to strengthen the spacious feeling of the house, as extension of the internal floor.
For the shape of the courtyard, a simple rectangle was selected. In order to install sliding windows that open very widely, each side of the courtyard was needed to be long and straight.
And to strengthen the feeling of unity of internal space, we decided to put the rectangular courtyard at an unusual oblique angle to outer walls rather than a right angle. Because if you put courtyard at a right angle to the house volume whose width is limited by the shape of the sight, the house would be divided into two parts, and this is against the requested vision of the unified space. On the contrary, by locating courtyard at an oblique angle to outer walls, spaces around the courtyard can have enough area to stay, and be chained each other at their corners, without aisle. This arrangement creates spaciousness and sense of unity of the spaces, because an oblique angle makes the courtyard looks like a box which happened to be thrown out on one very large internal space. And this box of courtyard hints the existence of large united internal space, and also divides the single internal space into multiple ones functionally.
As described above, we proposed a one-storied house with a courtyard placed at an oblique angle to the outer walls as our solution to the client family’s requests, taking advantage of the irregularity of the site they obtained. This simple arrangement was also successful in giving the house a strong character and an open-air feeling through the view towards the blue sky.