Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa Design


Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa

This renovation of a house in Tokyo by Keiji Ashizawa Design involved creating a courtyard through the upper storeys.

Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa

Called Skycourt, the project involved adding a new structure to the top of the existing two-storey building to create a third level and outdoor deck.

Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa

A double-height courtyard pierces the first and second floors, admitting light and linking the living and dining spaces to the outdoors.

Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa

The bedrooms and bathrooms on the ground floor are protected by a louvred fence, while an office and guest room are located in the basement.

Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa

Photographs are by Takumi Ota.

Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa

Here's some more information from Keiji Ashizawa Design:

SKYCOURT is an ambitious renovation project that involved transforming a Japan house into a modern home connected to the city and the sunlight. The house is located in a quiet residential area, a couple of blocks away from Tokyo's business district. The original house plan was a dated two storey house with cramped bedrooms, small windows with no indoor/outdoor flow.

Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa Design

The clients, a working couple with two children, wanted to maximize the living space, create a backyard with privacy and develop a structure flooded with light. As the original house was part of a set of twin houses, the clients also wanted to decorate the facade in order to severe the link with the sibling. These requirements demanded bold renovations.

Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa Design

Remodeling in Japan is a relatively recent phenomenon. The average life-span of a building is less than 20 years, even less for central Tokyo. Building authorities are very reluctant to allow any alterations in structure (in part due to Japan's earthquake standards) and are often only convinced after extensive negotiations and complete re-analysis of the structure.

Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa Design

Every successful renovation project requires the clients and architect to first recognize the positive characteristics of the existing space. In this case it was helpful that the clients lived in the old structure for one month to add their real life experiences to the design process.

Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa Design

Achieving the clients' goals within the constraints of the building required a number of key changes: A new tent structure was placed on the top of the building thereby creating a new third-storey with outside deck. Light was added in abundance by opening the south of the house and punching a courtyard out of the roof. To further capitalize on these changes, the order of the house was reversed so that the living, dining and kitchen were shifted to the upper floors thereby giving those areas access to even more light.

Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa Design

A serene family area was created on the first floor by placing the bedrooms and family bathroom on the first floor and connecting the master bedroom to a Japanese style garden. The privacy of the bedrooms and garden was further ensured by erecting a 2-storey louver fence on the south border. A quiet office and guest room were installed in the basement.

Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa Design

One of the key features of Sky Court is the melding of indoor and outdoor spaces. On the second floor the new internal courtyard serves as a separator between the kitchen and living room while ensuring visual connection from that floor to the roof-top terrace. Similarly, the lounge on the third floor connects to the outdoor deck and opens to the view of Tokyo's skyscrapers that dazzle at night.

Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa Design

Another important feature of the project is the creation of unusual volume. The hole punched through the roof creates a heart-like space in the center of the house that opens to the sky. The new top floor (where the airconditioning units used to be) was one of the few places where old space did not have to be recycled and, as a result, the angular roof cap is juxtaposed against the existing straight walls.

Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa Design

In Tokyo, where space is at a premium, clients may need to accept a more vertical way of living, spreading over three or sometimes four stories. At the same time, the challenge to create great architecture requires developing new ways to completely utilize vertical spaces. When you also add the restraints of a renovation project to these existing hurdles, both sides need to be innovative. In this case, this challenge merely ignited the fires of everyone involved resulting in the generation of passionate synergistic energy for the project.

Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa Design

After the completion of the renovation project we had the chance to visit the home a number of times and were struck by how the alterations matched the clients' lifestyle even more than anyone could have imagined. The house was lovingly given a name: The COURT that was created during the renovation bathes the home with soft light and allows its occupants to gaze at the SKY. The answer to the clients' demands, a light filled home where one can feel connected and yet away from the city, is the definition of SKY COURT.

Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa Design

Design: Keiji Ashizawa Design
Keiji Ashizawa / Rie Honjo
Structure Engineer:ASA Akira Suzuki

Skycourt by Keiji Ashizawa Design

See also:


Slybox by
Keiji Ashizawa
House in Minamimachi 3
by Suppose Design Office
architecture stories

Posted on Thursday August 19th 2010 at 7:03 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • hacedeca

    Of all these small japanese houses has shown, this is by far the coolest.

    • amsam

      agreed. spectacular.

  • edward

    Nice job of opening up the interior of the house. None of your spartan minimalist kitchens here as it is fully equipped. I pass on critiquing the furnishings. .

  • Diego

    These Japanese homes are inspiring…I just love seeing them and they seem to be getting better at it by addressing dynamic issues such as light. Viva JAPAN! My next home is going to be designed n in Japan!!

  • DiLo

    The way they integrate the spaces in section are amazing. It seems to flow very well from floor to floor and each space is in itself, awe inspiring.

  • Fantastic! Japan rules… The geometry of section of the roof structure is so sexy. Tell me Japan has been in the crisis for last 20 yrs or so?… It looks like it definitely helps to raise the quality of architecture. They are modest, smart and progressive. So strangely :) I prefer an architect of this tiny house in Japan rather than STARchitect for one of those mega-projects in Emirates for mega-consumers from mega-rich gulf countries.

    • edward

      Couldn't agree more with your last sentence.This project took a lot of work and the result is a satisfied client.

  • Wow! Beautiful interior!

  • charlie chan

    For a renovation project of this scale, this is amazing.

    It is so hard to "give life" to a building, but these guys has done it. This is a very modest but a strong project that revitalize the quality of life through deviating and connecting spaces vertically and horizontally.

    "Every successful renovation project requires the clients and architect to first recognize the positive characteristics of the existing space."

    Thank god they are not Gozill-architects who loves to destroy and build upon entropy.

    The detail and love they've given to each and every space is amazing.
    This is Architecture.
    This is creating Harmony within the built-environment.

    a thousand claps!

  • alf

    lovely spaces and photographs that describe use so well and with such subtlety, i love this project, it is great to see a project coming out of japan that you might actually feel happy to live in

  • sunnyboy sohl

    Anybody know what sofa that is in white and blue?

  • w

    The best thing I have seen on this site. Incredible.