AR House 2015 Best of the Rest: two distinct architectural languages accommodate both family gatherings and individual experiences
It is not breaking news that Japanese projects are often rewarded in the AR House Awards. Although they, expectedly, all tend to be on the smaller end in terms of surface area, they differ largely in terms of form and materials.
In Takashi Yonezawa’s Fukuta House, located in the tranquil and mountainous setting of the city of Seki, two very distinct architectural languages come together as one and accommodate the gathering of family members while providing individual niche-like spaces for a more insular experience.
On one hand, a tall roof reminiscent of a traditional hut or Japanese temple – although asphalt tiles have replaced the traditional thatch – is supported by a gridded timber frame that follows the 1820mm (length of a tatami mat) spacing in plan. On the other, a Jenga-like cluster of white boxes constitutes the core of the dwelling. These volumes break the oblique planes of the roof, piercing through and protruding out.
If the amalgamation of such distinct aesthetics, and its resulting complexity, seems contrary to the modest size of the dwelling, the roof appears to be a key element in Takashi Yonezawa’s architecture. His scheme for a Kumon school in Kyoto, highly commended in the 2011 AR Emerging Architecture Awards, essentially consisted of a big and steeply pitched roof wrapped in a dark skin of galvanised steel.
The staircase, placed at the heart of the dwelling, acts as the vertebral column of the scheme, with the inhabitable white volumes branching out from it and accommodating the bedrooms, study room and inner balconies. The garrets at the top of the scheme allow the inhabitants to read a book or play the guitar on their own while still connecting, visually, to the communal living spaces of the ground floor.
Through its reinterpretation of the traditional noyane (hidden roof), Fukuta House successfully conveys an overall sense of unity while allowing for simultaneous occurrences in its interior and respecting the everyday rhythms of the distinct family members.
Fukuta House in Seki, Japan
Architects: Takashi Yonezawa Architects
Photographer: Satoshi Shigeta