Two houses in Tokyo by Cheungvogl



Hong Kong architects Cheungvogl have designed two identical houses to be built side by side in Tokyo, Japan.


Each house will have a long, thin courtyard planted with a single tree.


Made of rough concrete and aged timber, both buildings have smaller structures with pitched roofs perched on top.


Here's some more information from Cheungvog:


2 houses in Tokyo, cheungvogl


Looking out, seeing people come and go while trees are standing still, witnessing the change of scenery season after season.


Street poles spanning across the narrowest allies, providing mysterious connections between houses.


Window view becomes an extension to the outside world. It measures time quietly.


The two houses, standing side by side, related and yet separated. Its outline traces back years of history within the context. Simple detailing, rough concrete and aged timber are elements that tie the two houses together. Within them, store calmness.


Inside the house, the connection to the outside is reduced down to two linear courtyards. Framing 'the tree' standing on a sheet of white gravel, absence from the city's influence, quietly documenting time. Contrary to the ground floor, the pitched roof is a small space enclosing the stair leading to an undefined open room - the roof itself. Three meter above ground, the city skyline seems almost tangible. Looking back, 'the tree' - is standing still.


The project. 2 houses in Tokyo is a private development that consists of 2 almost identical houses, occupying 2 identical plots. House 2a is to be occupied by the client, a Japanese-German couple, based in Tokyo. House 2b is for sale.

The client's requirements are clear.

Calm, but not sterile.
Humble, and yet unexpected.
Economical, nothing extravagant.
Open space with flexible floor plans and a space to contemplate.


By the choice of materials like fair-face in-situ and pre-cast concrete, industrial finished flooring and local construction techniques with simple details, the project stays under budget. This opens up opportunities to custom design furniture pieces as prototypes for House 2a, such as the kitchen unit, the dining table, the courtyard bench and the floor-sitting-couch.


Cheungvogl is a young international architectural practice founded in 2008. The design studio is based in Hong Kong and led by Chinese-Canadian architect Judy Cheung and German architect Christoph Vogl.

Posted on Tuesday August 25th 2009 at 12:03 am by Jonny Jones. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • rodger

    nice tough work.

  • liz

    …how Ise to build 2 identical pitched roofs. i only wish it was actually constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed on alternating sites, rather than co-existing.

  • Joaquin

    I personally think a small, minimalistic projects like this one is better presented with physical models, sketches and drawings. 3Ds destroy all the glamour of it.

  • outside looking of this building is ordinary from pics,but the internal seems not bad.

  • one

    Chinese-German Irony on a Japanese Urban Texture… Interesting. Still a bit Bunker like…

  • aida

    very simple and complete one!

  • It’s funny, in some quarters they constructed beyond than two identical houses…
    It must be fashionable now!

    Francois Beydoun

  • Alex Prodan

    i think it would be better if the houses were in mirror…

  • Bt

    seems it’s lately trendy to design houses without proper windows

  • Agree with Francois. I’ll add this looks like a student project. And i hate the way this lifeless project has no existence on the public side…
    And it seems trendy too to have large windows looking toward a blind wall.
    I prefer tract houses, at least they don’t pretend to have any architectural ambition.

  • Maria (Columbia)

    Homes are meant to be warm living experiences

    Am I the only person that finds this to be cold?

  • Dimitra

    the calmess only the images transport is amazing!
    it seems like a project which doesn’t transport assets to the outside like an exhibitionist – against the trend of architecture communicating more than there is content to it.
    i lived in yokohama for 2,5 years and i have to agree with the designers to frame living and outside space, introverting, paying recpect to the remain of privacy and quietness in one of the most dense aereas in the world. putting the roof as an open, undefined space against the introverted interior is such a beautiful definition of space.
    i love it – congrats!

  • Dimitra

    p.s. archilocus, just checked your website – you are an architectural student?

  • sliceofsun

    For me it looks like Gulag-campsite from outside…..brrr.
    the inside seems interesting tho. I wonder as an ordinary person, would I pay for this project to live in a house that looks like that?And wouldn’t I miss the sunshine?

  • Josh NY

    this design is just amazing!
    in these days of curves and splines and blobs, my eyes just want to thank the designers for some rest and calmness.

    it is amazingly grounded and complete. the outside seems to be very shy and quiet. seemingly sensitive and stepping back. this architectural language is quite rare these days of ‘wanting to be something without being something’….
    i just want to experience the days going by, in this amazing living room….

  • Kelys

    This project is simply one of the most stunning houses I have seen in a long, long time.
    I can imagine myself coming home, only to seek quietness in watching the beautiful tree arrangemnt from the living room.
    I haven’t been to Tokyo, but living in London makes me crave for the silence in these spiritual spaces. Sensational!



  • Yamada

    amazing outcome of this multinational collaboration!
    cheungvogl definitely contributing an interesting piece into todays japanese housing scene – seen in the whole scheme of things it is very unique, indeed!

  • jozu

    you people complaining about windows should take a look at the section to understand its got all the daylight it needs.

    I think its like a calm and introverted oasis in the city.
    but the 3d is terrible ugly like rendered by archicad +_+

  • Phil


  • @Dimitra/ no, I’m architect. This is my portfolio is of personal works, but mainly student work indeed…

  • It reminds me of the old houses in Beijing…

  • Neill Barret

    amazing work! very poetic!

  • Gio

    i love the ‘postcards-from-japan style’ of the exterior shots!
    design: strong and humble at the same time

  • Bob lucas

    Arbeiten wie diese wird nie dich frei.

    Work like this will never set you free.

  • French Ise

    the freedom lies within the walls – you wouldn’t want to have a window on groundfloor, facing the street or neighbour in this dense surrounding… and then, one morning you will find yourself slurping your coffee in front of the window, wondering why all the people outside are staring at you, and you realize, you forgot to put a towel around your hips when you got out of the shower… this is, what happened to a friend of mine – and he lives on the second floor!

    a great design concept, straight forward, unique, including the furniture… love it!

  • JH

    a controversial discussion must mean, the mind is stimulated – doesn’t the design aim for that?
    it is just so calm and beautiful, you could get lost in its traquility…

  • endless

    one of the best designs, i have seen for a looong long time!

  • takamashi

    Absolutely love it !

  • Mikado

    It is amazing to see the sensitivity of spaces, created out of concrete.
    The reduction and clarity leaves space for reflection and thoughts – even the structured surface of concrete suddenly gets a stage, to perform like a painting.

  • s mart

    wow! what contrast to their chicago project – both: A+!!!
    so refreshing to see a young practice to design so free from manifestos and expectations….

  • Charles

    just ‘wow!’
    so pure… couldn’t say anything, but ‘wow!’

    such a strong concept!


  • Kriszta

    i’ll be depressed in these houses …

  • Jad

    thoughts and concept are so well organized – it is hard to achieve such silent beauty!
    beautiful light quality inside – the diffuse light and reflection gives it this soft dream-like character on the inside!

  • Mo_Tokyo

    An amazing piece of work ! Very beautiful.

    This is so cool.

  • Jean D Arc

    This is simply stunning:
    the spaces are so open and pure, awaiting to be filled with the experiences, memories and reflections during a lifetime…. very sensational!

  • Hugo

    i m in my 3rd year, studing architecture in Tokyo and i came across cheungvogl in lectures and in chats in the corridors all the time… their design (including works in Chicago or in Tokyo Station) is by far the best i came acorss in my young career! this design is so amazing, as it brings the notion of reflection onto your own life into the center of ‘living’ by any meaning.

    i love this project!

  • daily spread

    ‘concrete’ design. love it.

  • tomo

    Growing up in Tokyo and teaching architecture – these types of projects are always of interest to those who do not understand the urban fabric of our city. The introversion nature of the dwelling in response to the surrounding density. However – this project is far from being provacative, outside of it duplicating itself – which is a questionable move. All one needs to do it get into one of our high-rises and look out at the surrounding residential communities. These dwelling types fill our city on marginalized sites. If this design is not student work, I am confident it is only a conceptual design by an architect who was seduced like a student – who really does not know our city.

  • 鏡子

    ので、純粋な – 非常にまっすぐ進む. 私は大好き!

  • Noriega

    this is just stunning – very much reduced to the essence, this architecture is much rather quiet against the common trend of producing gestures only for the sake of gestures. looking at the images, i would feel very comfortable from the outside as from the inside.
    certainly, this design isn’t meant to flood cities in mass produced designs, but it breaks up the pattern of average, to give your eye/mind rest, peace and freedom to reflect. it is the opposite to barcelona pavilion or johnson house in expression/execution, but the offered openess to the mind speaks the same language. i don’t know any example in recent architectural history, but peter zumthor’s work, which touches senses in the way this design does – i am deeply impressed!

  • G. Meier

    so beautiful!

  • Miriam

    rough materials embracing the mind’s state gently – great design!

  • marie

    if you read through Tadao Ando’s essays and thoughts about the coherence of public and private life through the past several years, this must be one of the most radical as genious steps of design of the development of private life in a public exposed environment.deeply impressing and moving design. i would like to see more deep design like this, in these days, where surfaces and curves matter most, to catch the eye.
    beautiful design and thoughts.