Curved Little House / Studio Velocity

© Kentaro Kurihara

Architects: Studio Velocity
Location: Nagoya,
Project area: 41 sqm
Photographs: Kentaro Kurihara

© Kentaro Kurihara

Little shop of 41㎡ in Nagoya city. The site has an elongated shape with a width of about 9m and a depth of 20m.

While the front road is relatively wide, with a sidewalk, one might get a feeling of oppression due to the small size of the site surrounded as it by shops and houses of from 2 to 3 stories.

The required elements were spaces for parking 2 cars, a space for drying laundry, and a space for the shop.

© Kentaro Kurihara

The building has to stand at the back of the site since the frontage is not of sufficient width to permit a K-turn and the front portion is occupied by the parking area.

One can seldom escape from such approaches when the building is a shop with parking spaces. A good example of this would be the convenience store two lots from the site.

© Kentaro Kurihara

I was afraid that the shop would disappear in the area because the small area of 41㎡ is too small when compared with the neighboring houses. That is why I started thinking of how to make it an eye catching building for passersby and drivers.

I placed the main space at the most remote part of the site, while the entrance was on the opposite, street-facing side. The building transverses the site in a gentle manner and so residual exterior spaces are created.

© Kentaro Kurihara

These residual spaces became a garden, the drying space, and the parking area, and all of them complete the beauty shop as a whole. The shop has the continuous style of a studio apartment and you can see the totality of the interior from the entrance.

Yet one is able to see some spaces not visible from the entrance, as you walk into the back, because of the building’s curve.

© Kentaro Kurihara

The shape of the building is something like the volume of the entrance door stretched, and the section at the entrance is only the size of the door. However, the section becomes larger both vertically and horizontally, as one walks into the back, and becomes subtly smaller again at the end.

The volume of the curve was determined by a study to maintain the overall balance of the continuous interior space on its very edge.

© Kentaro Kurihara

I analyzed the degree of curvature to balance two factors: the ability to see throughout all of the continuous space; and the sequence of gradual changes as one walks in.

At the same time, I tried to create 3 distinctive zones out of one room by changing the density of the openings.

The first is the entrance space. With the largest opening on the wall, one can feel the openness and the proximity to the outside regardless of its small space, almost the same size as that of the door.

© Kentaro Kurihara

The second is the cutting space in the middle. The light rhythmically streams into the space from the 5 small side windows with a view of the garden. The third is the shampoo space in the back. This space is the one most filled with natural light from the building’s skylight.


You can look up at the sky from the shampoo basin. You will be attracted by and would like to walk in when you see the brightest, innermost curving space from the entrance.

I am thinking of how I can create something like a new environment by layering the various degrees of light in this gently connected space.

Cite: "Curved Little House / Studio Velocity" 07 May 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 21 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I for one would dread living in such a place…Though I always seem to wonder why modernism has taken “white” as an official color, or atleast it seems so.

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        Its a shop… Why would you want to live in it?

        Nice little project and poetically works for its designated use.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    I just wanted to congratulate the architect on his design for this project. He took some fairly straightforward requirements, spaces for parking 2 cars, a space for drying laundry, and a space for the shop, and came up with a very thoughtful and inspired design for this beauty salon. The building not only meets the requirements it does so in a way that introduces intrigue on the part of passersby and integrates the landscape as an extension of the space. The interior space guides the eye and gradually reveals itself to the visitor.

    As a neighbor, I would be very grateful for this design as well, since it introduces open space and a park like setting in what is an otherwise crowded and bland cluster of buildings. Well done!

    Thank you also for providing the architect’s commentary on his thought process in designing this space, this was very informative and helped me to understand the constraints and objectives of the project.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I just wanted to congratulate the architect on his design for this project. He took some fairly straightforward requirements and came up with a very thoughtful and inspired design for this beauty salon.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    All art and architecture is a development of previous works but this is just a direct rip off of the Diller and Scofidio ‘Slow House’ that received international acclaim about 20 years ago. This is really shameful!

  5. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    Damn close to Diller Scofidio’s house a LONG back.


    Begs just a few questions.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    This isn’t actually a space to live in but rather a hair salon. When considering the function of such a business, I think this is a simple and beautiful interpretation of the needs and function of the premises. Clean white spaces which show off the clients styling to its best advantage, easy to keep clean, bright – and might I add, in a country where space is an absolute premium, this is a generous use of the land.
    (And unlike the Slow House – this one was actually built!!)

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Would anyone else feel so ‘imperfect’ getting the barnet cut in such a super white and sterile place?

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I think the fact that it’s in a residential neighbourhood makes you think it’s a house looking at it from the outside…The salon doesn’t fit in the context and I think the architect made it quite obvious. Though, I’m very sure it would look better somewhere else.

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Context? You got to be kidding me? You have no idea what is typical urban Japan.
    99% of the buildings, residential or commercial, are hideous. Most often the only architectural gems are hair salons and the occasional standalone restaurant building.
    Once in a while you see a nice house, either traditional or contemporary, they are pretty rare. Most are factory built and ordered from a catalog or in a showroom. They look exactly like computer renderings from the eighties.

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