Ryusenji House by
Tomoaki Uno Architects


Daylight funnels into this dark concrete house in Japan through two narrow light wells in the roof.

Ryusenji House by Tomoaki Uno Architects

Designed by Japanese studio Tomoaki Uno Architects, the two-storey house in Nagoya contains just three rooms; a living room and bathroom on the ground floor and one bedroom on the half-sized first floor.

Ryusenji House by Tomoaki Uno Architects

Aside from the skylights, the building has no windows in the double-height living room, creating a space that is dimly-lit.

Ryusenji House by Tomoaki Uno Architects

Despite this, architect Tomoaki Uno told Dezeen he "values sunlight" most of all. "The inside is dark in these photographs, but that expression varies from one day to another," he said.

Ryusenji House by Tomoaki Uno Architects

The interior walls are left as stark concrete.

Ryusenji House by Tomoaki Uno Architects

This theme continues on the exterior, where the only relief from the bare concrete walls is a metal door that reveals an entrance on the side of the building.

Ryusenji House by Tomoaki Uno Architects

Uno described the project as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. "I do not make such an architecture all the time," he said.

Ryusenji House by Tomoaki Uno Architects

Other houses in Japan we've published this week include a residence with sheds on the roof and a house with courtyards punching through its walls.

Ryusenji House by Tomoaki Uno Architects

See more Japanese houses on Dezeen »

Ryusenji House by Tomoaki Uno Architects

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Ryusenji House by Tomoaki Uno Architects

Here's a few extra project details from the architect:

House at Ryusenji

Location: Nagoya, Aichi
Prinicpal use: residence

Ryusenji House by Tomoaki Uno Architects

Site area: 118.33 sq m
Total floor area: 69.94 sq m
Structure: wall reinforced concrete
Scale: 2 storeys

Ryusenji House by Tomoaki Uno Architects

Above: plans and section - click above for larger image

  • Frederik

    Private prison?

  • Jordanmathers

    The owner better get used to mace spray for when he takes girls back there.

  • SAB

    What a shame.

  • Jelena

    Classic and amazing.

  • pete_S

    Voluntary prison cell.

  • ivan

    I really love Japanese architecture, but from a certain point of view it’s getting absurd. I mean, can anyone imagine somebody wanting to live there?

    • Rafael

      I can see so many people wanting to jump at the chance to decorate these bizarre spaces and many more wanting to live in them. I for one wouldn’t mind.

  • kolobok

    I would agree with the architect’s idea, if there was no possibility to use sunlight naturally – if there were high buildings all around, or trees covering the yard, or the house was underground. But now it’s not convincing.

  • Andrew Basile

    I didn’t see a photo of a kitchen. Are meals just bread and water?

  • ponihi

    Japanese Psycho.

  • Mark

    Brutal. It’s easy to make a joke out of this but like the designer says, this probably a once in a lifetime chance to experiment and actually build a space this extreme. Would love to see this after a year when it’s been lived in!

  • Ayatollah Rocknrolla

    Oh, come on! what is this about?! No one wants to live here! I feel sorry for the neighbour on the left whose little bay windows now face this monolith, for one thing. Also, why are the parapets so tall? Just to make sure there is minimal daylight?

  • antonius

    Solitary confinement.

  • mik

    One can open the windows shown in the plans – so it’s not always like in the photos. Good shelter for a chaotic urban life. Congrats!

    • Ayatollah Rocknrolla

      "Aside from the skylights, the building has no windows in the double-height living room, creating a space that is dimly-lit"

  • This would look great if it were to host an installation. I couldn’t live here – it’s way too dark!

  • Dave Gronlie

    I look at the ninth photo and I imagine the building painted black. Cue “Also Sprach Zarathustra”.

  • Birch

    This is a mausoleum.

  • .tiff

    The client seems like he's a villain from a James Bond movie.

  • blah

    Clearly it’s a beautiful building, but one day when I win the lotto I’m going to do a documentary travelling around Japan and see how people feel living in these day to day. I’d love something like this, but I’m nocturnal. I’ve no idea how “normal” people would fare.

  • Rob

    This is stunning. All those who see it as being wrong are too conditioned to “generic, typical poor premises design'” which is generated by the building profession and resembles very little of the needs of an end user. Architecture should celebrate sensory experiences, inspire and frame activities. This is a place I would love to call home.

    • mik

      I totally agree with you Rob. I still think that most of the comments people publish here are either fantastic or very poor. But mostly they are poor.

  • One fears the owner might suddenly decide to add a splash of color to the walls… with human blood.

  • How about fresh air? What happens in case of a fire? The low door in room three must act as a fire escape, as well as the very steep stair to the roof? Do Japanese building regulations really allow residential buildings like this? What happens to the human psyche, when confined to spaces like this? I love concrete walls as much as the next bear, but is living in a concrete cellar really that appealing?

    • proterozoic

      What's gonna burn in that thing?

  • Juan

    An empty shell of a home really; but even bright airy houses with lots of light can look vacant and cold when empty. The rectangular sky light with its scale and depth, beaming down on a fine rug and maybe a comfortable couch, maybe some lighting too (the sockets seem to be discreetly blended in with the concrete; unlike most houses built today where sockets and holes can visually scar the house) can suggest its intended purposes. This house envisions a way of living that borders on obsessive privacy. It is decadent and stark in its minimalism and in a spectrum of luxury represents a paranoid truly modern sense of elegance, as well as a resolutely Japanese vision.

  • n n

    We rarely get to see architectural experiments built, and that’s why I love seeing this. Questioning established and known architectural “facts”, especially in housing projects, is a great way to push the profession forward and open some new and unexplored ways of habitation.

    The only thing I really miss here is the explanation why. What made the architect and the owner opt for such a dramatically closed and unlit space?

    • Tomoaki Uno

      Thank you for comment. I am delighted that we have received a variety of comments. What the client wanted the most is for the house to have no windows at all. Because I want to separate clearly the relationship between the individual and social life. I also had a hard time to convince the skylight. After completion, My client said to me “I did not think the mind to be liberated by living in this house like this”.

      • raf

        Great! I can definitely see the client giving the middle finger to the cookie-cutter neighbors by building this. I find the neighbours’ presence oppressive (the mini mart, the car parks, the air con units, etc) and your house is a shell for the client to retreat. I for one very much like it.

  • vampire

    Perfect virtual simulacrum room, good for the gamers, lol.

  • Because of the strong contrast of the light, it looks too dark in the photographs. Cameras have a limit to take real space under this situation.

    I like this work very much.

  • Breadcrumbtrail

    All these negative comments about light completely misunderstand the nature of the project. Ever read ‘In Praise of Shadows’? Traditional Japanese architecture makes extensive use of ‘half light’ for its atmosphere. Do not assume that more light = better architecture.

  • Very primal! Going back to our roots, living in caves. Spending a day out hunting mammoths, or a day at the office, will be a more positive experience.

  • Fizz

    Where’s the humanity? Or is that not a component that needs considering when creating a benign, comfortable, life enhancing space for an individual to reside in?

  • Rafael

    This is obviously not a family home. We don’t know who the client is, what his/her lifestyle, needs or profession are. For all we know the client is a light-sensitive albino and a film photographer.

    In any case, the building is experimental, and in being so I think it succeeds in creating drama and generating interesting spaces that make us think about the boundaries of comfort. I prefer this to an “aw, that’s nice” house.

  • dafdsf

    Better send me to Guantanamo prison. It’s warmer there and at least I can hear the sound of the beach and seagulls, regardless of the torture I’d be exposed to.