Architects: Keisuke Kawaguchi + K2-Design
Location: Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan
Project Year: 2012
Photographs: Koji Fujii
From the architect. Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture. It is a seaside city with a mild climate facing the Seto Inland Sea. With very little level land and mountains up to the shoreline, the city is divided and spread apart. Modern Kure City started with the opening of Kure Naval District of the pre-war Imperial Japanese Navy in 1889, and developed along with the construction of naval facilities. Because of this, historical buildings and cultural facilities introducing its history are found in the city. The “Yamato Museum”, opened in 2005, is well-known. The Seto Inland Sea, with the Akinada Islands, is beautiful and the blending of its robust port and delicate natural beauty is very attractive.
This house, built as a dwelling for a couple, is located on a hill with the luxury of this splendid view. The couple purchased the property attracted by this setting overlooking the city. A spacious living space was not needed, but the request from the couple was to put emphasis on the sensibility of both interior and exterior materials. We planned carefully in accordance to this request.
With no obstructions around the site, the house is highly visible from afar. Our thought was that the silhouette of the house should be impressive from all distances as one approaches along a narrow uphill road. Thus, we focused on a style with distinctive character while also fitting into the surrounding landscape. Time passing from dawn to dusk, the day’s weather, views from different angles: We pursued a design that would be visually intriguing and rich through these day-to-day fluctuating elements. To achieve our goal we used the concept of “cutaway surfaces” and boldly sliced unnecessary parts from a square box: the “idea of subtraction”. When considering comfort of living and efficiency, this approach is sometimes effective. Keeping a balance between the inside and outside of the house, we developed the design based on this idea of subtraction.
We adopted rustic natural stone for the exterior walls. By finishing both the roof and walls with the same material, we aimed for the house to have an understated charm while exhibiting distinctive character. The interior was designed along the same lines Upon entering, the sky immediately comes into sight and gives an added feeling of expansiveness to the simple living space. Going straight forward, and one sees the living room on the left and the dining/kitchen on the right. Looking up at the sky from the entrance, and then down to the impressive view of the port town from the living room: The outside view from the window looks even more dramatic after first capturing the sky through the glass ceiling. We interpreted the sky through the ceiling as a “point” and the view through the window as a “surface” with its expansion range of vision. We wanted to utilize the line-of-vision of both the “point” and “surface.”
To keep the focus on the outside landscape, the interior rooms of the house are generally simple. A winding staircase is used to the second level for space efficiency, as well as to add visual contrast to the interior. A shoes/cloakroom next to the entranceway functions as a small hobby room as well as a storage space. The plaster-finished interior walls have a natural look that harmonizes well with the couple’s existing furniture.
The sofa in the living room is the best place to enjoy this house. One can view the sky, the sea and the port town of Kure while relaxing. The wooden sashes play the role of a picture frame to make the landscape a one-of-a-kind painting. A luxurious bathroom and the deck space which this blessed location grants offer quality relaxation.
Now that their life has started in the new house, the couple must be getting great pleasure in living there. “The way one wants to live”~~ Our goal as architects is to “build” and express this ideal in a dwelling. In this process, from initial concept to visualizing a structure’s future, architects build upon trial and error. This evolution is the most rewarding aspect of creating architecture and to be able to share this with our clients is our joy.