House T by
Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

There are huge rectangular holes in the walls and floors of this Tokyo house by Japanese studio Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects.

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

Wooden ladders connect each of the four split-level storeys and a staircase with built-in storage leads up from the ground floor studio to the dining room and kitchen on the staggered floor above.

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

One ladder travels up from the dining room to the living room, which then steps down to the bedroom through the wide hole in the wall.

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

Another ladder connects the living room with the skeletal top level, where four holes in the floor give the room a cross-shaped layout.

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

A small study area is sunken into one of these holes and residents use the floor above it as a desk.

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

Lamps of different lengths also hang through the holes and a final ladder leads up to a terrace on the roof.

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

Similar Japanese houses we've featured include a split-level residence with a narrow lightwell and another house with holes in the walls.

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

See all our stories about Japanese houses »

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

Photography is by Hiroyasu Sakaguchi.

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

Here's some information from the architects:

House T is a residence and atelier for a couple in the centre of Tokyo. Floors like bookshelves are placed at the different level in the shifted box.

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

Furniture is put on each floor to create living room, dining room, kitchen and bedroom.

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

The floors are only hooked by columns which are three-dimensionally intersected at the middle of the box.

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

This simple structure gives latitude for space composition.

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

In the massive volume of the box, each different activity of daily living takes place at each floor with open view.

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

Lighting hangs from top of the box to each floor to illuminate them like a floating stage.

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

Client: A couple

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

Location: Tokyo, Japan

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

Built area: 75.62 sq m (total)

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

Completion date: May 2012

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

Structure: Wood Flame, two-storey

House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki

  • This is a truly remarkable space. Open and yet cozy at the same time. Love it!

  • dezy

    Is it a cozy home or a death trap..?

    • Rob

      Anyone concerned with safety, you obviously do not appreciate design. Give up now. This space is amazing.

  • Bhavnesh

    Beautiful, but scary as f*ck. No railings, or balustrades?

  • No railings on the top level. Fall all the way from the study to the dining room floor—terrifying!

  • Rafel

    Absolutely crazy, an architect plans this in Europe and he goes to jail after the first deaths. The builder also, as co-responsible. And the owner.

  • cethuesen

    Very nicely done, some really great spaces. I wouldn’t want a client with kids there though…

  • themark

    In a country with frequent earthquakes this house is just a death trap. How does something like this even get built? Nonsense.

  • Davide

    A cool place to die.

  • realm-3

    Cannot or should not be compliant with prescribed building regulations?

    Totally irresponsible design concept, are there no health and safety constraints?

    A tragedy waiting to happen, and it won’t be a long wait. Terrible!

    What’s more, with such abandonment of practical responsibility and the subsequent creative freedoms, the spatial aspects are quite unremarkable.

  • douglas

    Style over Safety

  • Kirk Paulson

    Just for the record, Safety is an illusion that we wrap ourselves in so that we THINK we’re safe, when we’re all still out here on the leading edge of unfolding experience driven by chaos or God(s) and ‘taking it as it comes.’

    ACTING safely is the only way to not fall through the openings into the empty spaces. Being AWARE and personally RESPONSIBLE is the only insurance worth a damn. Customizing the spaces to manage your particular situation is what happens in every house as it migrates its way towards HOME.

    I love the way the space has been maximized and made flexible. Put in your own damn railings if that pleases you, but never forget that you can fall through or off them. Just saying. ET/KO

    • Rich

      Kirk, I like your comments. I wonder what the statistics are for deaths from falling in Japanese homes? Even the ones with hand rails rarely have balustrades.

      Studio Bow Wow even designed a kindergarten with a playground on the roof surrounded by netting. I think they place a high regard for personal responsibility while we in the US are always claiming someone else is at fault for our own stupidity or carelessness and are totally crippled by the laws/codes.

      The Japanese houses and their use of space and light are very inspiring and refreshing and it seems that they still look to architects to design most residences.

  • Nick

    A house for tee-totallers…

  • ted

    Not that it counts for anything but I think it’s amazing. And the keyboard in the roof – yes please. Hilarious.

  • Mandeep

    Beautiful yet wholly impractical space. Can’t have children there, no sound proofing, insulation and heating seems like it had no thought whatsoever. So forget eco homes, let’s all just design things that look pretty and have no practical use in the real world.

    Good design doesn’t create more problems than it’s supposed to solve.

  • ipm

    Imagine coming home drunk, trying to find your bed :-)

  • Domlily

    I would really like to see one of these intricate Japanese homes inhabited five years down the line.

    Photos of a brand new empty home are always stark/cold.

    I suspect that there would be really interesting changes, (not least to the numerous safety concerns above) wear marks, pictures on walls, furniture that has been used etc.

  • This space is the picture of order and serenity. I love its shape and form.

  • Bob the builder

    I wouldn't want to bring my washed laundry from the bottom floor to the roof to dry every time I do a load. How about installing a dry cleaners conveyer belt up the atrium?

  • Some very weird decisions taken. A moving staircase with casters? Whoa…

  • koko

    Unconventional spaces and transitions between spaces. I totally love it.

    Imagine some glass rails if you are hung up on things.

  • I would be a goner in this house. Great design needs to work not endanger lives.

  • jason

    Love the ‘DS’ style drawings.

    Kudos to Japanese crafts-persons to be able to build from ‘notional’ drawings. That said, the lack of resolution is really apprent in this project. (Take the millwork feature stair with mal-aligned cubbies).

    Many designers/architects/ would go crazy living with the un-resolved.

  • This is certainly NOT architecture… at least not for humans who don’t fly or crawl!

    It is a show, though! Might be good for a circus… Very unfortunate! Inhuman! I am amazed how a project like this gets permission to be built in an advanced society like that of Japan!

    Even in our “backward” and “underdeveloped” country, this will not get a permit and won’t get built. Although I must “confess” that some youngsters here have gotten away with stairs without rails (because authorities do not inspect completed projects)… one of those stubborn “modern” ideas!

    Alvaro Rojas, Architect, Costa Rica

  • Uoh

    Great home for trapeze artists or super heroes that can fly or levitate.

  • I was just making a comment on how the Japanese are the most creative when it comes to designing/building homes in small spaces.

    I must admit, this home has an element of danger to it but the overall use of space and all the amazing custom details/finishes are FABULOUS! Thanks dezeen, this is a wonderful feature.


  • Justin

    How crazy is this? No restrictions in the design process. Who would have thought a house traversed with ladders was even an option? Love this :)

  • Karl

    This is crying out for a fireman’s pole from the study to the dining area!

  • Concerned Citizen

    The eastern third-world house of inevitable death.

  • Elena Nigmand

    Truly unique. Unconventional, original, succinct.

  • Monika

    Does this enormous thing only have one bedroom? I thought Japan didn’t have a whole lot of spare space. And how do you climb all those ladders if you injure your hand or foot?

  • Britta Bartels

    Way too scary to live in. I do not think that it is cozy at all because it appears to be like a big hall atmosphere and very cold due to the lack of walls. What about privacy? Do the bedrooms allow intimacy???