LocationOnjuku, Chiba Prefecture, Japan
ArchitectsAlastair Townsend, Kayoko Ohtsuki
PhotographsCourtesy of BAKOKO
From the architect. Onjuku is a popular seaside resort and fishing town on Chiba's Pacific coast, about an hour and a half by train from Tokyo. The beach house is sited behind a bluff, 300 meters from Onjuku's famous white sand beach. Built for an international couple—the husband is a lifelong surfer—who live and work in Tokyo, this weekend getaway may become a permanent residence once they reach retirement.
The home's concealed entrance is served by a Japanese genkan, separating the home proper from a built-in shed for stashing surfboards and bicycles. This tunnel-like outer porch connects the gated rear entryway and the wooden deck which incorporates a built-in seat and planter. Timber shutters slide across the entire southern eave, securely locking-down the home to protect it from seasonal typhoons.
From the road, the home maintains an intentionally low profile. Its austere stained tongue and groove cladding is sourced from native Japanese cedar. Returning from the beach, a private outdoor shower leads directly into the tiled bathroom. An intimate garden provides a tranquil backdrop to the sunken bathtub.
The home's dark exterior skin contrasts with its light and airy interior. The double-height living space is occupied by a spruce-clad box that supports a loft space above and contains the master bedroom, WC, and bathroom below. Careful detailing has incorporated the staircase and doors that close flush to conceal these private rooms.
Sitting at the built-in desk upstairs, one can gaze out the sea for inspiration. The shallow pitched roof is accessible via a ladder extending into a large pivoting skylight. Since the home is intended for casual entertaining, the loft spaces and a timber-lined lower study double as occasional guest rooms.
The home is predicated on passive design principles. Generous south-oriented glazing is shaded by the eaves in summer. Cross ventilation captures cool sea breezes. Slotted perforations milled into the wooden balustrade promote air circulation and cleanly conceal mechanical air conditioning units. In winter, the wood-burning stove provides renewable heat energy.