Atrium House in Ageo, Saitama
The “cloister house”, as this atrium dwelling in Japan is known, was built with an eye to young people. The “cloisters” here are in the form of a peripheral corridor that allows the clients’ three children to run around the internal courtyard, where they also enjoy a sheltered outdoor environment. Access to this external space is via large glazed sliding doors with wooden frames. The atrium, built entirely without columns, is crowned by an upstand 1.50 m high that bears the roof and encloses the sky in a broad white frame like a picture. Only on the western face does the house open itself to the outside world, in the form of a large glazed front. The joint sleeping areas of parents and children situated here can be screened with blinds. At a later date, a wall will be inserted to separate the parents’ sleeping quarters from those of the children. At present, the tatami mats on which the children sleep are rolled up during the day, and the sliding wooden elements are pushed aside, extending the living and dining areas to form an ample L-shaped space. The peripheral tracts on the opposite side of the house were conceived as corridors glazed on the atrium face and lined on the outside with cupboards and ancillary spaces. On entering the atrium, the use and sequence of the materials wood, concrete and stone – together with the raised concrete thresholds – are reminiscent of a traditional Japanese temple.