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Outside In House in Yamanashi, Japan by Takeshi Hosaka Architects

Runner Up: A sculptural V-beam roof funnels natural light into the interior while articulating the relationship between different spaces

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Takeshi Hosaka’s Daylight House on a congested site in Yokohama was a runner up in last year’s AR House awards (AR August 2011), impressing the jury with its imaginative response to a chaotic urban milieu. This year, his Outside In House in Yamanashi attracted comparable acclaim, and though the contexts are very different − in this case a low-rise suburban site − there are recognisable similarities in how both the houses are conceived as toplit volumes, sculpted and defined by their roofscapes.

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Sectional perspective


With its gently serrated roof profile and hermetic concrete walls, the compact, single-storey structure does not immediately intimate a sense of domesticity, resembling more an industrial shed or workshop. However, the south end of the structure is fully glazed and dissolves physically by means of doors that fold back like an accordion to reveal a planted terrace and living area beyond.

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Folded glazing slides aside to create a completely open facade

Hosaka’s aim was to connect the inhabitants with nature and light, and this is especially so in the summer, when the end wall opens up so that cooling breezes can circulate. The house is bathed in a soft luminance, both from the glazed end wall and clear acrylic panels set between the V-beams, which funnel natural light into the interior, subtly transforming the atmosphere of the house throughout the day.

The serrated roof structure divides the plan into a series of broad strips that run across the 8-metre width of the house. The regular rhythm of the strips dictates the sequence and relationship of functions. The rearmost strip, which contains a study and washing facilities, abuts a bedroom zone. This in turn flanks the main living and kitchen space, while dining is conducted on the landscaped zone of the terrace.

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Concept Diagram

Though each space is efficiently accounted for and compactly planned, there is also a generosity and surprising fluidity about the spatial relationships. For instance, the children’s beds are fixed bunks screened by curtains, rather like being on a ship. The bunks face directly into the living area, so, for better or worse, the children are always part of the domestic dynamic, rather than isolated in individual rooms. Together with his nuanced handling of light and materials, Hosaka’s imaginative approach to planning impressed the jury.

FACT FILE

Architect: Takeshi Hosaka Architects
Photographs: Koji Fujii/Nacasa & Partners

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Readers' comments (1)

  • There is a lot to learn from the ingenuity of Japanese architects to design clever small houses - but also from Japanese families from how to live in small places. Having lived in Japan, I contest the RIBA's fixation with size of habitation - many people value privacy over and above space. Moreover, in Japan everything is miniaturized to make better use of space - smaller domestic appliances and furniture for example but also pre-fabricated bathrooms incorporating bath, shower, wash basin and wc. Much as I loved sharing oddly converted houses with friends when I left college, it would have been great to have had the option of renting a Japanese style single person studio micro-flat in London.

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