M3/KG / Mount Fuji Architects Studio

© Ryota Atarashi

Architects: Mount Fuji Architects Studio
Location: Meguro, Tokyo,
Site area: 177.27 sqm
Building area: 106.33 sqm
Total floor area: 259.72 sqm
Project Year: 2006
Photographs: Ryota Atarashi & Satoshi Asakawa

This is a house to be built in Tokyo, for a movie producer couple.

This architecture is consisted by combining L-shaped blocks of reinforced and sequential frames of box-shaped engineer-wood. We put bedrooms, film archive and galley in solid part for security, and living room in engineer-wood part for openness. As material that consist an open space that is 6m in height, 5.5m in width, 14m in depth, we choose thin engineer-wood (38mmx287mm).

exploded axo

Main theme for this architecture is to bring out a sense of mass and material, which were denied by modern architecture which pursued “white, flat wall” as a style. We intentionally left the wood grain of mold on the surface of concrete, and choose textured stones and irons.

It goes without saying that a house is a relaxing place. A house like a white-cube, surrounded by flat, white walls everywhere, gives a person very abstract image. But that image could only be sensed when we use intellective part of our brain. The problem is that we’re not all-intellective-creature. For the people like this client, who do enough intellectual labor on a daily basis, white-cube would only bring sense of fatigue. The role of architecture, especially the ones for living, is to soothe the sensory side of people, not to stimulate the intellectual side. That’s my take.

© Ryota Atarashi

Sure, intellectual living would have got some meaning as a fashion at the time when modern architecture was born. However, now that it became a part of everyday life, its identity has been lost. We have to examine whether our approach is rational or not every time we build architecture.

Architecture as Dialogue

We do not subscribe to the assertion that “the city is a problem and architecture is the answer”. That point of view is a pure product of modern architectural theory, which as such weighs very heavily on today’s architectural education programmes: What are the problems running through the city? What answers can architecture offer them? School trains us in the acquisition of this method of questioning. Student evaluation is based on this conceptual and rational system of question and answer. And it is doubtlessly relevant, if limited to academic training; architecture on paper, devoid of substance, remains at a level of abstract purity that allows it to theoretically resolve the problem posed by the city.

© Satoshi Asakawa

But with real architecture it is quite anther matter. Indeed, even when it is designed as a pure answer, architecture realized, from the moment it imposes “mass” and becomes a built object, never manages to get beyond the “city=problem” equation. Because many architects have not grasped the obviousness of this, an incalculable number of buildings have sprouted in the urban landscape through the conscious application of the lesson learned: “problem-solution.” Unfortunately, the legitimate and equitable “answer” expected often winds up being nothing more than deplorable “urban filler”. For in using this approach, the concrete situation of the city is rendered abstract, theorised and formalised as problem and turned into a set of logical systems which will in turn administer a logical architectural answer. It is useless and unsightly to reintroduce these relationships defined through the filter of conceptual labels into the material world in the form of buildings. the resulting built architecture is merely a superfluous residue.

© Ryota Atarashi

We are doubtless the first generation to become aware of the reality of modernism’s limits. We sincerely and conscientiously avoid dealing with architecture through concepts as much as possible. For us, the city is from the outset imbued with “substance,” and the architectural process is the creation of “substance”.

© Ryota Atarashi

Therefore, we seek to manipulate these concrete relationships, as they are, in all their concreteness. The relationship between pre-existing city and future architecture is never envisaged in a unilateral way, as one would do when bringing an answer to a question, but rather as a continuous and balanced “dialogue” between the old and the new “substance.”
This is what makes our point of view so childlike.
To act upon things simply, so they will actually become what one would wish for.

Cite: "M3/KG / Mount Fuji Architects Studio" 28 Jul 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=49172>
  • Michael

    It must be my jaded ArchDaily eyes, but why do natural materials in a building seem so shocking these days?!
    Ah, timber and stone. I’ve missed you.
    Where have you been?

    Seriously though, this is a fantastic little house.
    Not just the materials, which are delightfully tactile, but also the volume and the structural expression.
    It’s lovely.


    Wonder how much each of those panes of glass costs?

  • SPUD

    i agree, the honesty of the materials is refreshing.

  • I just want to point to the different qualities of the pictures:
    - Ryota Atarashi: the classical photos of architectural composition > the elegance of architecture > (eventually) the beauty
    - Satoshi Atarashi: the photos look like they’ve been taken by an amateur and that quality is all to rarely visible nowadays; I find this day-to-day-architecture quality visible in those photos may be more useful than the beauty… under present conditions anyway?

  • lunafuga

    Soothing, beautiful and exciting at the same time.

    I truly envy those who get to experience this piece of architecture.

  • kudz

    awesome…BUT, toilet next to the kitchen?? c’mon japan, that aint a good look.

    • yeah

      Sorry to burst your bubble but this IS an individual single-family home = statistic rules of floor planning don’t apply here. I know many people who would prefer toilet next to kitchen and while I wouldn’t design it in a multi-family house I can totally understand such a wish from an individual client.

      BTW – those glass panels are simply incredible.

    • Leonardo Ximenes

      Bundling wet spaces together saves money in plumbling and labor, and it’s an acceptable solution to smal areas.

      • gk

        bundling wet spaces is fine, but the bathroom opens directly into the kitchen which is a big no no! would also have loved to see the bedroom connect with the open living space

        it is however fantastic project!

  • Eddie McFuzz

    nice project but the description could do without things like “Main theme for this architecture is to bring out a sense of mass and material, which were denied by modern architecture which pursued “white, flat wall” as a style”.

    this a total mis-representation of modern architecture and it suggest great ignorance of the the subject. what modern architecture are you talking about? your accusation would apply to a handful of architects of the 20′s and 30′s and no more than that. your encompassing definition applies to nothing done from the end of WW2 up to now.

    i suggest looking at the architecture and not to what critics say.

    • GT

      McFuzz, I think by “white, flat wall” as a style” maybe means the popular style in Japan now.

  • randy

    A very very nice project. real material, that age gracefully … i like this project on a lot of levels but its “denial” of industry construction technique is really my favorite. great project.

  • deZavent

    i love that timber-glass combination…

  • Wes

    The project has a really nice feel. The explanatory text is laughable. If they can render a building in concrete terms, why not be more verbally concrete? The text they wrote could apply to nearly any project on this website. I wonder why they felt this project needed such a verbal prop or crutch?

  • Pingback: www.playcloths.com » Blog Archive » M3/KG / Mount Fuji Architects Studio

  • arnold

    very interesting work. it’s architectural concenptual minimalism, who is characteristic in nowaday modern Japan architecture and architectural phylosophy.

    The only one remark: the glass wall in the daylight (or in the daytime) looks very massive and cold. Yes, in the paper these drawings looks good, but.. in the reality this building too much cold and a bit disproportionate(!) when you look at it from the perspective or another angle of view.

    The interior spaces are interesting and individual, fitted to individual persons who live and work here.

    But exterior.. suggestive. a bit monotonous, a bit “cheap”, a bit too high with its closed planes (glass and wood).

    Otherwise it’s GOOD and INTERESTING work. Especialy it looks very good in the night with its inside lighs.
    Respect to Architects.

    P.s.: in Tokyo are many interesting modern architecture. This is one example.

  • that’s what she

    must feel really nice

  • http://twitter.com/nicholaspatten/status/9011817231 Nicholas Patten

    Nicely Designed: M3/KG. http://bit.ly/cDQzgX


    4 R2D2 AND 5 C3PO`S!!!

  • hafiz

    great work

  • squidly

    More proof to ignore what architects say, and only look at what they build (or draw).

    this is a nice project, but i wonder about solar control. In one of the pictures the sun blinds the space, which may be tolerable in winter, but what about summer?

  • laar

    It is very unique, in the context of Japanese architecture – where many architects prefer to use the language of white boxes. The concept is simply beautiful, and the composition of materials is well thought.

  • t vyas


  • Araj

    very good and very easy and … good luck :)

  • Eric Zhang

    Love it