Mountain-like Japanese microhome is a skylit refuge

Hiroshi & Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects
© Hiroshi & Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects

From coffin-sized apartments to homes measuring the width of a parking space, Japan is known for its small living spaces and quirky building industry. In the town of Hyogo, architects Hiroshi and Tomoko Sekiguchi created this small, black-clad home with sloped sides, as a way to make the most out of a tight footprint.

Hiroshi & Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects© Hiroshi & Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects

Apparently, according to the architects, the overarching requirement from which the whole design stemmed was that there be enough space to park a "large, four-wheel drive car." Thus, a small garage forms the ground floor upon which the upper floor sits, which is accessible by climbing an exterior stair. The designers say:

In order to fit the large four-wheel drive car in the small site of only 27 square metre [290 square feet], the plan was to utilize legal maximum floor space, which lead to build the walls as close to the neighbors as possible. The inclined walls are to ease the eyes of an oppressive closely built house.

Hiroshi & Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects© Hiroshi & Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects
Hiroshi & Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects© Hiroshi & Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects

Another requirement was that the clients would be able to relax in the house, with some privacy from the neighbour. As a result, the home's walls have a minimum of openings, with the majority of daylight coming in from skylights. In fact, the roof skylights are the home's main window.

Hiroshi & Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects© Hiroshi & Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects
Hiroshi & Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects© Hiroshi & Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects

The interior's plywood covered walls feel warm, and the inclined walls guide the view up, making the space seem more uplifting and open. The exterior looks very much like a shrouded mountain, and on the inside, this is reversed: it is a light-filled refuge that looks up to the sky.

Hiroshi & Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects© Hiroshi & Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects
Hiroshi & Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects© Hiroshi & Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects

Here in North America, we have too many saccharine-sweet tiny homes, but in Japan, small homes are not built not as self-conscious reactions to the rule, but as creative expressions maximizing what's available. While keeping safety in mind, we could probably learn a lot from the diversity of Japan's tiny homes, and how they are integrated into the urban context. More over at Hiroshi and Tomoko Sekiguchi Architects.

Tags: Architecture | Japan | Less Is More | Living With Less | Small Spaces

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