Shirokane House by MDS concealed
behind windowless concrete facade


A doorway is the only opening in the faceted concrete facade of this family residence in Tokyo by architecture studio MDS.

Shirokane House by MDS

Kiyotoshi Mori and Natsuko Kawamura of Tokyo-based MDS wanted Shirokane House to make the most of its small site, so they designed a three-storey volume that angles outwards and upwards to create extra space and bring in more light.

Shirokane House by MDS

"There are basic requirements for a house, where people live, such as privacy protection and ample daylight and ventilation," they said. "It, however, takes a little ingenuity to satisfy such requirements under a given condition that a site is surrounded by the neighbouring buildings."

Shirokane House by MDS

Residents enter the house on the middle floor, and are led through to a double-height kitchen and dining room that receives natural light through a pair of high level windows.

Shirokane House by MDS

One of the windows fronts a living room on the storey above, while the other sits in front of a small roof terrace.

Shirokane House by MDS

A lightweight steel and timber staircase leads up to this top floor. Upon arriving in the living room, a steeply angled ceiling is revealed, as well as a corner window with a pointed tip.

Shirokane House by MDS

Concrete walls are left exposed inside the house as well as outside, and are textured by horizontal markings that reveal the original timber formwork. Floors are finished in walnut.

Shirokane House by MDS

A set of wall-mounted rungs form a ladder leading up to a second terrace on the roof, while bedrooms and bathrooms are located on the lowest floor.

Shirokane House by MDS

Photography is by Forward Stroke inc.

Here's a project description from MDS:

Shirokane House

The small site is located in a typical Tokyo urban residential area, where houses are closely built up. A pursuit of internal spaces in this house, as a result, changes the Tokyo cityscape a little.

Shirokane House by MDS

An area for one floor is usually desired as large as possible, in particular, in such a narrow site. For this house, the first floor area is small due to the parking space and the second floor is, instead, larger. The outer appearance is examined based on ceiling height, slant line regulations for a building shape.

Shirokane House by MDS

There are basic requirements for a house, where people live, such as privacy protection and ample daylight and ventilation. It, however, takes a little ingenuity to satisfy such requirements under a given condition that a site is surrounded by the neighbouring buildings. For the site, the southern site across the road is "tentatively" a parking space and no one can tell what will happen in the future. The daylight is, therefore, taken in from the above as much as possible and it is brought downstairs.

Shirokane House by MDS

The living room is on the top floor. The roof terrace facing the blow-by above the living room and the terrace connected with the living room take daylight and air in the house and the light falls on the dining and kitchen room downstairs. The irregular shape at the corner of the site allows the house continuously to keep privacy as well as daylight and ventilation.

Shirokane House by MDS
Floor plans - click for larger image

The building looks quiet only with the entrance on the south facade, it embraces expressive internal spaces where light and shadow change by the minute.

Shirokane House by MDS
Cross sections

Architecture: Kiyotoshi Mori & Natsuko Kawamura / MDS
Location: Minato-ku, Tokyo
Principal Use: Residence
Structure: RC
Site Area: 64.49 sqm
Total Floor Area: 101.63 sqm

Exterior Finish: cedar forms exposed concrete
Roof: exposed concrete
Floor: walnut flooring
Wall: plaster/cedar forms exposed concrete
Ceiling: acrylic emulsion paint + plaster board

  • Bill

    Casa de musica anyone?

    • C’mon

      Three angles equals casa de musica? There must be a lot of casas de musaica in this world!

  • pmcnv

    As a student, I’d love to know a budget for something like this.

  • haromaster

    Maybe it’s just because my seeing and hearing isn’t as good as it used to be, but I just can’t enjoy watching a TV that’s 20 feet from the couch.

  • Lewis

    They haven’t got much stuff have they?

  • mcmlxix

    With a few exceptions, I’ve become exhausted with Japanese residential on Dezeen. This project is somewhat of an exception. The interior materiality is surprisingly humane, the “cozy” spaces feel voluminous, and the fenestration makes the most of the context. Success.

    • greg

      I get tired of so much wasted space in such small spaces overall, not mention cold environments.

  • Having trouble attaching the term “cozy” to this interior.

    • Ben


  • Rae Claire

    I am saddened by structures that are so unfriendly to their streets, but those simple facets help quite a bit, surprisingly.

  • Concerned Citizen

    I guess they keep clothes, kitchen ware, dinnerware, keepsakes, etc. in another house somewhere?

    • t.vincent

      WIC, not WC

  • HMc

    I quite like it to be honest. However, no matter how long I study the plans and sections I still can’t work out how to get on the roof terrace…

    • Hi HMc,
      If you refer to the image just above the project description, it shows a set of rungs on the side wall leading up to the terrace. Ashleigh/Dezeen

  • Concerned Citizen

    So, there’s no WC on that floor, at all? I suppose if one becomes ill, they must move into the WC on a different floor. A lot like having an outhouse, instead of indoor plumbing.

  • gab354

    Is there a law in Japan that forbids taking pictures of the surroundings?