House in Kohoku / Torafu


© Daici Ano

Architects: Torafu
Location: Tokyo,
Design year: 2007
Construction year: 2008
Structure: RC
Building Site: Yokohama Kanagawa
Site Area: 230 sqm
Constructed Area: 67.35 sqm
Photographer: Daici Ano

This site is located in a quiet residential region reclaimed on a hill of Yokohama. With neighboring houses lined very close together, this flag-shaped site meets a road at a verge of no more than 3 meters in width. Since the site is tilted to the north, and the neighboring house to the south is two-storied and built on a higher ground, at first it seemed almost impossible to let in light from the south, although the client, a married couple who has lived in this place for a long time, wanted a small but sunshiny house of one-story just as their child became independent from them.

© Daici Ano


The roof which looks as if barnacled lets in light through the glass on the top of the tube-shaped windows that are set avoiding shades and eye gaze of the neighbors. On the inside of the house clearly appear the shapes of these tubes,and the arris of a kind of folded plate roof softly separate the whole residential space. The house being one-storied, we were able to form the roof with freedom. And taking advantage of the freedom, we aimed to make the exterior and the interior appear as two sides of the same object.

section A

Although the main living area is no larger than approximately 7.5 x 7.5 meters, we tried to give appropriate distance among the scenes of food, clothing and housing by moderately separating every space along the arris of the ceiling and by making the most of the height of the ceiling itself. High arris connect neighboring spaces, and low arris separate them into, for instance, a living room and a bedroom. Infixed at the space where the ceiling is highest is a wooden mass. Inside the mass are a kitchen, bathroom and sanitation facilities, while the top of the mass is used as a designing office for their son. The top of the mass, which is a lot like a loft, and other spaces are visually separated but family members presence can be felt when they are there.

© Daici Ano


We decided that we used reinforced , and we sought to use it most reasonably. By giving the roof a kind of folded plate roof structure, we were able to fulfill the pillar-less interior space. As opposed to the substrate surface of the exterior, the walls and the ceiling are painted white and given a bright and homogenous finish. The floor and the built-in furniture are made of medium-density fiberboard and given a paint finish. In stark contrast to the white walls and ceiling, the furniture exists as if it has grown from the floor.

ground plan
second floor plan

The roof not only lets in light and provides cover from rain but, on the inside, gives the space a moderate separation. The brightness and softness of light differs according to season and time of day, which changes the look of the place. The windows on the roof cut out the sky and constantly project the changes of the nature.

Cite: "House in Kohoku / Torafu" 22 Sep 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 21 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I agree the space is interesting, but the building seems somehow like a premise to an expansion on the theme? Or am I talking nonsense? One must also bare in mind the japanese lifestyle, and when viewed from this perspective I think the space is generally a success.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I love the idea behind this house but I feel it lacks any organic form + happiness with so many straight lines. This appears to be the fashion at the moment.

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    I’m on the opposite side. I love that it’s just white and full of light. Maybe that’s why my apt. is all white with a few furniture on it.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    The views are always nice, but in this case the flag-shaped plot dictates that the only open views are towards the street. So I think taking natural light in through the openings in the roof is a great idea, since there are buildings close on the other three sides. The mass and shape is interesting also. Quite a playful and compact house.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    VP: Good point. But almost every urban house has the same problem with the restricted views.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I think, for me this is merely a sculpture. It doesn’t come up from the principle of “form follow function”, except if the client doesn’t worry of the sharp wall (or ceiling?) near their head. Anyway, It does not create “space”, but only an unusual “form”.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    no circulation of air……if it place on a tropical climate sure become the oven house

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I like its form and light, but the internal can be more compact and beautiful, I think just need some more time to conceive it!

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I think this house is a great synthesis of interesting space, dynamic form and light. It seems to be perfectly funtional too so what more can you ask? The exterior looks really out of place in the neighbourhood; but personally i love the interior space (as designed by the architect) unfortunately the furnishings and curtains ruin it.

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    don’t worry, this house has got WHITE and LIGHT
    Who said the interior design needs Colour far from white?
    I agree that the fabric (inc.the curtain) is nonsense, though.

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    interior needs a better solution i guess…
    why they needed to put the beds in the living room? =) i really couldnt get that but maybe the client wanted it that way…

    the closeness of the walls that separates in-from-out is sharp. it’s temple-like roof is ok. and all these make sense that made me think if client wanted to feel like a temple living in the house.
    then it makes sense that, people who are gonna live in it, wont miss the garden view or wont care if beds are in the living room =) a different way of living…

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    those little window openings are disastrous with the relation to the overall form and the way it meets the ground its not great either in my humble opinion.

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    the interior makes me feel like living in a cel and the skylights only make that feeling stronger.
    It’s so introvert,…it makes me shiver,…there is absolutely no relation to the outside,…

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