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Towards the sun: Japanese mini-house in Kodaira

Making the most of limited space presents a particular challenge to many Japanese architects who want to create living areas in the densely populated surroundings of Tokyo. House GEH, which stands in Kodaira, has been created as a single-family dwelling offering quality of life despite spatial constraints.

Architect: I.R.A./International Royal Architecture, Tokyo
Location: Kodaira, Tokyo, Japan

GEH House stands in the middle of a densely populated residential area in Kodaira, a city of 200,000 people located to the west of Tokyo. The limited space between the house’s taller neighbouring buildings, plus the less than perfect west-facing plot, provided the architects with the foundation for their basic design.   

Anyone passing this lot in Kodaira will notice the south-facing roof, which is a predominant characteristic of the single-family home. But it does not merely incorporate design values; it is a main component of the lighting concept as well. Daylight can penetrate a narrow row of windows in the roof to fall deeply into the house. The steep slope of the roof reflects the light and channels it, rather like a funnel, into the interior space.  

In order to exploit the full potential of the natural light in the living space, the architects placed the living room and kitchen on the first upper level, while the master bedroom and bathroom are found on the ground floor. This arrangement corresponds to the course of the sun.

The architects call the second upper level the “box beam.” A suspended cube appears to hang above the living area. In fact, this light wooden construction has been poised unsupported between the exterior walls; it houses the children’s room as well as a free area for working and relaxing. 

Project data

Design team: Akinori Kasegai, Daisuke Tsunakawa
Completion: 2013
Structure: timber construction

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