Living in a shoe box: Single-family residence in Japan
Architect: Shuji Fujita + Yuki Shinbo / SYAP
Location: J–Yokkaichi, Mie
The two-storey house, a simple, square-shaped volume, is located in a suburb of Yokkaichi, a city on the southern coast of Japan. To leave as much space for the garden as possible, the building is set against the northern boundary of its almost rectangular plot.
Access to the house is provided from the west, whereby openings in the respective façade have been dispensed with in the interests of visual privacy. The main, southern-facing façade features four symmetrically arranged window doors with striking white frames that complement the building's bright appearance. The westernmost of these window doors acts as the entrance to the building.
The completely white facades are unadorned yet pleasing to the eye. While upright strips in galvanised sheet steel introduce a vertical touch, the true highlight of the building can be seen in its single-pitch roof, which rises from the north to the south to form a wedge-shaped glazed space above the same-height walls, thus creating the impression of a tilted lid on an open box. To provide a degree of protection from the elements, the roof projects somewhat over the southern façade.
The interior makes a welcoming impression with its light and airy atmosphere. Open areas are fitted out with larch-encased block-like volumes that serve as places for seclusion and which are to recall a forest in which the blocks represent nests. Along with the stairs, which in themselves have the appearance of autonomous elements, the wood-encased blocks seem to form a structure of their own within the building, in which any clear allocation of space has been consciously avoided. Particular attention has been paid to details, all of them precisely executed and featuring mitre joints in the timber elements.
The loose arrangement of the wood-encased blocks creates interesting sightlines between the two storeys. Wherever tumble guards are required, simple glass has been used to permit an unimpaired field of vision. The open character of the interior is rounded off with the glazing on the upper floor, where clearstory windows let in fascinating shafts of light while doing the job of filtering direct sunlight and providing for light-flooded rooms.