The residence is located along a gently-sloped hillside with no other house or obstacle around. It took some thinking for me to visualize a house standing in the middle of grass land. The house needed to provide a sense of protection since it would be the client’s final home. It also needed to be supple to blend with the surrounding natural environment. Standing in this rich land, I wanted the house to have a sturdy and fragile presence at the same time.
The adjacent street has almost no pedestrian traffic, but buses pass by a few times a day, and there is relatively heavy car traffic. In order to securely open the house to the surroundings, the living quarter had to be lifted higher to avoid the view from the street. The house can be opened in all four directions as long as it is not visible from the street. This would be, however, the final home for the female client. It is important to secure the comfort of her everyday lives first and then plan for extraordinary moments. Thus the house’s openness and closed-ness have to be well balanced. In other words, the centrifugal force toward the exterior (the scenery) and the centripetal force (force of shelter) toward the interior must pull each other with an equal strength.
I proposed a compact square plan from the beginning in order to meet the budget and accommodate the necessary programs. Although each room is very small, the rooms could create spaces (parts) with distinct spatial qualities if they were positioned in different directions and assembled. This would give the client options of space to occupy. Specifically speaking, “soto-no-ma (exterior room)” – intended for sitting – has a flat, low ceiling which extends the space horizontally toward the surrounding nature. “Naka-no-ma (interior room)”, on the other hand, has a ceiling following the roof’s pyramid shape and is filled with natural light from the top. The diffused light creates different nuances of shadows on the ceiling and draws the space vertically toward the sky.