New MUJI vertical house is only fourteen and a half feet wide

front facade
CC BY 2.0 Good Design Award

The Japanese housing market is different from that in North America or Europe; houses are thought of as depreciating products, not much different than cars, that are often thought of as worthless after fifteen years. (see Why Japanese houses are so weird)

© MUJI via ArchDaily

That's why this new prefab from MUJI, The Vertical House, is so interesting. It is very much a MUJI "No Brand" product; as they say on their site, "The Company’s basic principle is to develop new simple products at reasonable prices by making the best use of materials while considering environmental issues."

© MUJI via ArchDaily

Muji products came into being in the early 1980's as a result of a new mood, calling for a return to simplicity in daily life. Our aim was - and still is - to provide our customers all over the world with the fundamental things they need to live a busy, modern, urban lifestyle. These things must be made from good, sound materials, with no unnecessary frills or fancies and must sell at a reasonable price.

© MUJI via ArchDaily

The house has a very simple plan with utilities and storage on the ground floor, living and dining on the second and sleeping on the third, with no interior walls, and from what I can see in the section, a bathroom on the lowest level.

© MUJI

The google translation of the MUJI site is pretty rough, but the house is designed to be extremely energy efficient, with lots of insulation to keep the temperature stable through the course of the day. There is one split air conditioner on the third floor, with cool air dropping through the light well and stairway. As the graph shows, the outside temperatures may fluctuate between day and night but the interior temperature stays relatively stable.

© MUJI

The house is built of glulam columns and beams joined together with high-tech fasteners, all designed and tested to be earthquake proof. Like I said, the google translation leaves something to be desired and I can't quite make out the last line:

MUJI house method, unlike traditional wooden construction method, and to solidify the strength of the frame by joining the columns and beams durable SE hardware. Section defect (the cross-sectional area of ​​the timber which has been subjected to processing becomes smaller than the previous processing) is realized less tight junctions, to prevent twisting of the building, and received power at the entire structure robust to withstand earthquakes I want to allow the sex.

© MUJI via ArchDaily

More photos at ArchDaily and a lot more information on the house from MUJI if you read Japanese or can muddle through the translation.

© MUJI

Tags: Green Building | Japan

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