Shift House / Apollo Architects & Associates

© Masao Nishikawa

Architects: Apollo Architects & Associates
Location: ,
Structural engineer: Kenta Masaki
Project area: 257 sqm
Project year: 2009 – 2010
Photographs: Masao Nishikawa


© Masao Nishikawa

Surrounding the site in the outskirts of Tokyo is lush green and a slow-paced environment. The building was commissioned by a family composed of the husband who manages an insurance company, the wife who works as a patternmaker and their two children. It was planned as a SOHO, with a space for the yoga classes run by the wife added to the house.

first floor plan

The distinguishing exterior consists of a wooden volume covered with a luminescent wall sitting on top of a base made of exposed concrete engrained with the texture of Japanese cedar.

In sharp contrast to the exterior that is closed to the outside world, an inner courtyard pierces the center of the structure. With a hollow center, the house is easy walk around and allows for the presence of family members to be felt from anywhere. The symbolic tree in the courtyard plays a central role in sustaining the equilibrium of the architecture.

© Masao Nishikawa

On the ground floor, the living room and dining kitchen face each other across the courtyard while a sculptural staircase is positioned across the courtyard from the entrance. The staircase is symbolic in its presence and gives expansiveness to the spaces together with the courtyard.

© Masao Nishikawa

On the first floor, the multi-purpose room is used for yoga classes and for other activities, while small gardens are positioned around bedrooms providing light and openings.

Incorporating an open-air garden within it, the house makes it possible to fully enjoy the Japanese four seasons. The contrast between the external and the internal will help to keep a fresh mind in everyday life.

Cite: "Shift House / Apollo Architects & Associates" 17 Jan 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <>
  • KDS

    I usually find Japanese modern architecture just too earnest/minimal/severe, but I really like this house and imagine that it’d be very easy to live in.

    Considering it has no windows to the outside, it’s light-filled and airy. Even though the courtyard consumes square footage, it creates a simultaneous connection/separation of spaces that somehow makes the house seem larger than it is. The tree in the middle will be a lovely, always-changing sculptural element.

    Just one question, though: is there really no full bathroom on the upper floor?