House of Inclusion / FORM | Kouichi Kimura

© Takumi Ota

Architects: FORM/Kouichi Kimura Architects
Location: Shiga,
Client: Private
Construction Year: 2009
Site Area: 215,35 sqm
Constructed Area: 151,71 sqm
Photographs: The copyright of all images belongs to Takumi Ota

This house, located in a new residential area, is for a 30-something couple.

Surrounded by other houses, the design goal was set up to block out the outside world while avoiding too much closure, as well as to provide rich and sensuous spaces.

© Takumi Ota

© Takumi Ota

First, a small patio and a path connected to it were laid out between the living/dining room and exterior. They are surrounded by a wall that blocks off the line of sight from outside. Planting and pond are laid out at the patio, so that the picturesque images of green and water are viewed from the rooms.

© Takumi Ota

Enclosed by walls that create indirect light filling softly the entire room, the house presents sentimental scenes here and there. The living spaces and the life lived there are enveloped by green and light, creating an affectionate environment.

Cite: "House of Inclusion / FORM | Kouichi Kimura" 19 May 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 17 Sep 2014. <>


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    I have noticed a trend in the recent japanese projects of wanting to close off the outside world. I think the interior light is wonderful, but I am just concerned about the lack of connection with the exterior environment

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    So, to hesitantly comment on Daniel Con’s comments “concerned about the lack of connection with the exterior environment” – it’s a city – concrete – subs of Japan – Hallloooo – wtf???? I think the pics speak for itself and I’ll ad, I’ll definitely ad as many walls to have some privacy if surrounded by fools like Daniel Con! Thank you.

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    @ Daniel Con. Actually it is not a trend, but a traditional typology in Japanese urbanism. Traditional home were mostly a platform with movable paper partitions (Fusuma), and connected to functional rooms (toilet, kitchen, entrance…) the whole within a garden separated from the street (often just a dirt road) with very high solid walls. It meant a very distinctive separation between the private family space and the rest of the city (itself very divided and enclosed with forbidden areas, quarters…). The idea of connecting the city with the dwelling in Japan is actually very modern, and rare because Tokyo is really chaotic (but often very clean).

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    ….It seems like it’s too much of a fortress to be a home. So beautiful on the inside, but nothing to share on the outside. Then again, it is Japan, so I am pretty sure it is a treat to come into a home that completely shuts out the hustle of the city. It’s a good project that ironically has both negative and positive responses to its surroundings.

    that is all

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    I love this man’s work.
    So simple and modern, yet still warm and human,and referencing Japanese tradition.
    I love the idea of a family sanctuary locked away from the rest of the world. This is very Japanese.
    Go to some of the old charming streets of Kyoto and there is very little engagement with the street.
    New urbanist doctrinaires would hate it.
    Kimura is now my favourite Japanese architect.

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    To say that Kimura’s work is quintessentially Japanese because we see references of it to “known” Japanese elements and designs, aside from the obvious locality/location of his work, is not right nor wrong. Kimura has expressed his influence from Scarpa, therefore, we have to conclude it isn’t purely “Japanese” as many of us would like to hasten a “guess” at his work. Today, we all live in very similar conditions and under equal demands.
    For me, it is the solutions and ingenuity he brings into his creations. The ability to knit the clients, the materials, the budget, the spaces, the site, and the hierarchy (if anything, this is most Japanese centred) of all into one harmonious unit is what I see. Only the Tatami room is the one luxury that draws no comparison in a western home. It would be out of place anyway.
    There is much to like and little to criticise here. The second bedroom seems flexible (thoughtful), the storage and the main bedroom very well handled. Overall, I prefer the more playful “Little House”, but I can appreciate they serve their clients’ needs foremost. Good work Mr. Kimura and always a pleasure to see.

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    Excellente house architecture if we forget that real people will live in…no neighbors, no city views, no gardens, no environment, no sun light…just had the feeling of the movie “Home Alone”.
    And the color gray on everything doesn’t help this feeling to vanish.
    But, as I said on the begining, it’s very plastic.

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    Jaxolargo, wouldn’t it be nice to wake up in the morning and see the sky?? or watch your kids playing with their friends outside? yes, it is a city, yes it is the subs of Japan… why hide from it? How can there be any community if everyone hides behind their walls and thus makes it an even more depressing and cold environment? And tell me Ultraman where is the garden? Is it the small sliver of space between the house and wall? It is very depressing to me, but that is just my opinion. The interiors are nicely designed, but that is all. There are ways to have privacy without creating a prison cell.

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    There is a befuddling quality to this commentary that never ceases to amaze me. The charitable conclusion is that these canards are floated by people who have very little actual experience of urban living. It is very hard to understand why a Japanese house is judged forbidding because of the devices it uses to create space and privacy while the same thing in London or New York would draw kudos for ingenuity.

    In case no one was paying attention, the lot line and building code are realities. Bay at the moon in solicitation of your morning slice of sky until hell freezes over and you won’t make any more space in Japan.

    One the things that I really appreciate about Mr. Kimura’s work is that it is authentically Japanese while taking into account that there is something called the occidental world where great architects have been practicing too. It is fascinating for me to see the spatial concepts that modern architects in the west (FLW, etc.) cribbed from the tradition of Japanese spatialism (as juxtaposed with obsession with symmetry and duality in other Asian architecture) finally boomerang back to Japan refracted into something that is both fresh and genuine.

    There is a big difference between this architectural language and the essentially western thinking (however clever and audacious it may be) of practitioners such as Toyo Ito or Tadao Ando. This is satisfying domestic architecture tuned to the needs of its place, its time, and striking all the right notes.

    I challenge anyone to post a building in an urban context of equal density that achieves more than Mr. Kimura’s work does.

    Terry Glenn Phipps

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    Erm, Terry was doing so well until the “challenge”. I doubt FORM would/should/have/dared … suggest such a notion. The lost of “community” is an important point that Daniel Con made, and it is one that had to be made to bear on a collective rather then the individual. I know it has to begin …. eventually … one fine day perhaps.

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    Terry, first as a clarification, I have never lived outside of an urban environment which is why I believe that my comments are just. I think that you are assuming that I am advocating for suburban American house here. I am not
    Look at any typical townhouse in Boston, New York etc… More dense than this neighborhood in Tokyo (from what I can see in the photos). Yet in these urban neighborhoods there are clear zones of public and private living. The public “stoop” facing the street, the living space is plenty private, and if you are lucky enough there is a private garden in the back of the townhouse. These homes are not windows to the public environment, but they do engage it, which I think is very important in an urban environment. From a public safety point of view, there needs to be a connection between the residents and the neighborhood. They need to have their private space, but share the neighborhood. This house blocks out the neighborhood and the neighbors, and in my opinion is a bad example of URBAN design

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    If I could just jump in… since architecture is a union between form and function AND it is the client who pays architect to have his/her needs satisfied, the outcome IS a fusion of these two factors. The client likely wanted to separate himself from the environment – his right to exercise. What bothers me in this project is that aspects on which architect has more influence than the client (like colour, form and/or technical detail) appear to be somewhat neglected. The house doesn’t harmoniously fit into the surroundings and this is what the architect is accountable for. I can say nothing on the interior as it is a result of Japanese living culture but for a Westerner the house do appears like a prison cell. It would be way less controversial if the architect tried (at least a bit) to be more sensitive to the house setting.

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I agree with Bo on this one. I see nothing wrong with a house “looking” inwards. however the architectural details and awkward spaces inside and out seemed forced or were not pushed far enough in design.

  14. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Well that is just my point. The alternative that is shown to be better is entirely western, plastic Corbusian in its conception. Neither does it provide any measure of privacy whatsoever from the street.

    The typology of entirely inward looking, layered housing is fundamentally Roman in conception and pervasive throughout history. It is rare that a sense of space is actually about space itself in mathematical terms. Everyone has their preferences, but I don’t find the volumetric composition of what was shown in alternative pleasing in any way.

    Color palette is a symmetrical argument, and perhaps the one that is most closely associated with culture. What Japanese culture recognizes as a natural color palette is not western. I happen to love it (as did Wright, Scarpa, Neutra, Schindler, Breuer, and every other modernist who visited Japan in the first half of the 20th century) but some may not.

    Having actually lived in a New York townhouse (as well as a London townhouse) I can tell you that the urban density is in no way comparable. The smallest townhouses in New York are roughly triple the size of this built area and many (most) run to four or five times the built area. There is no parallel to Japanese urban density in the modern world.

    Mr. Kimura’s work has consistently seemed to be divisive here. I suppose that is a sign of quality. People who are making cereal boxes elicit scant debate. Personally, I am a fan of this studio.

    Terry Glenn Phipps

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    One of the most valued (rare) basic needs in Japan is privacy, and FORM-Kimura has succeeded here. This is not understood by Daniel Con and his possy. Also, Japanese traditionally have a different approach to city planning and exterior treatments of buildings which goes back centuries. The architects, sensitive to these traditions, effectively (as usual) take the needs of their clients and execute with consistency.

  16. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Architect and client relationship is more then just meeting basic needs, and privacy is not exclusive. We can tango all season long on what FORM-Kimura has delivered or where he has gathered his strength from … but we must foremost answer the architect on whether he has succeeded in what he said (see his text) he has set out to achieve. Nevermind going round the world in 80 architects or overcoming the walled-community issues. However, I do believe that an architect should occasional (when the opportunity arise) forget s/he is an elite and slow the acceleration towards a less-friendly aspect of architecture. Everyone need to play a part in a force for better social change, especially an architect with influence, and some might say, it is a duty.
    Perhaps here, it is acceptable in judging that this house is within a comfortable ratio of the variety? Change is a concerted effort. I shall leave you to your intellect.

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    1 The front facade/driveway has no fence.

    2 The backyard gardens in Boston New York and Philadelphia have 6-8 ft high fences.

    3 The ‘inward-looking’ house did not start with the Romans, and was developed simultaneously all of the world, how euro-centric.

    4 Good fences make good neighbors. The absolution of privacy that is currently trendy in the name of ‘community’ is absurd, most people do not want to live in a glass box. Eveb the Farnesworth house has curtains.

  18. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    The spaces are beautiful. But one bed room is very restricted. When thinking about living kids, it could be a nightmare.

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