Sabaoarch build three-metre-wide
concrete house in Tokyo

| 5 comments
 

Japanese studio Sabaoarch has built a concrete house with tiny windows on a narrow strip of land in Tokyo (+ slideshow).

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara

The Wall of Nishihara occupies a sliver of sloping land between two streets in Shibuya, Tokyo, so Sabaoarch enclosed it in concrete walls, which are punctured with tiny windows to give the residents privacy but still bring in light.

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara

Rooms are arranged on half levels going up the structure, and a folded metal staircase weaves between them, introducing height into the centre of the house. The architects liken the circulation route to climbing a tree.



Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara

"The multi-levelled house is connected by a rope of stairs. The experience is like climbing up a tree to the sky, looking at the surrounding scenery," said architect Masanori Kuwabara.

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara

The external concrete walls were moulded against slats of timber to give the facade a friendlier, more textured appearance.

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara

Inside, small windows on both sides of the house bring in light, and larger windows offer views outside to balance a sense of enclosure with openness.

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara

"While the exterior feels like a closed space, the house connects its inhabitants with the city," said the architects. "The wall is both substantial in its mass, and has a sense of transparency."

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara

The irregular shape and placement of the windows is also intended to make the building feel more organic, and timber flooring and stair treads help to make the exposed concrete interior feel warmer.

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara

The house has two rooms on half levels on the lower-ground floor, and a living room on the ground floor. The living room opens on to a small garden enclosed by concrete walls, which taper together where the two streets meet outside.

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara

A kitchen-diner occupies the half level above, and the bathroom is at the top of the house. It opens on to a small terrace, which has stairs continuing up to the roof.

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara

Photography is by Shigeru Oono, Yuji Nishijima and Sabaoarch.

Here's some text from the architects:


The Wall of Nishihara, Tokyo

This house on an upper hill in Tokyo stands on a small site with a three-metre width between two roads.

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara

We have created the space for dwelling in the small gap where residents could live in securely.

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara

At first, we have visualised a thin and strong wall as a membrane which contends on the borderline between architecture, person, substance, and phenomenon.

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara

The depth exists in the thinness and material strength exists in bordering weakness. The wall is both substantial in its mass, and has a sense of transparency.

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara

The unevenness of the exterior is made in laps by using a cedar mould, on the concrete wall to create the shade on the rough texture. It seems that the wall with the worn opening is parasitic on the residence, with the surrounding hedge forest around the site.

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara

In order to make the domain in which man can live in the narrow place of a both-sides road, the detail of an opening-wall which wraps the body was able to be considered, maintaining relationship with outside.

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara
Site plan - click for larger image

The small window dug on the concrete wall brings a feeling of inner depth and darkness, which trees as the origin of a dwelling make. Finally, they developed once the structure of space with the darkness, which trees have, and became a trial which is reconstructed as an architecture.

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara
Section A - click for larger image

As a result, while the exterior feels like a closed space, the house connects its inhabitants with the city.

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara
Section B and C - click for larger image

Architect: Masanori Kuwabara, Sabaoarch
Structure engineer: Matou Hayata
Structure: reinforced concrete
Storeys: three (lower-ground floor, ground floor, first floor)
Site area: 40.12m2
Building area: 24.06m2
Total floor area: 78.06m2
Site: Shibuya, Tokyo

Wall of Nishihara by Masanori Kuwabara
Elevation - click for larger image
  • mcmlxix

    It’s a pity that the cedar was wasted as a form rather than cladding the house with it. Oh, and Corbu did it better.

    • HintOfBrain

      Wood is nice to touch; it’s organic in nature and therefore useful in an interior context or where it is intimately felt. Since walls are never touched or utilised like this, it’s not usually used by the Japanese this way.

  • Dave

    This does not look like a cosy place to live in! As cold as ice.

  • HintOfBrain

    Japanese houses, especially of modern design, are anything but boring. And how can you tell if it’s liveable or not? Pictures cannot convey the quality of experience. “Death trap”? I’d die to live in a house like this. It’s cool as hell. Design is top-notch.

  • HintOfBrain

    Yes the stairs *should* in principle have railings, but as a designer you should be accorded the luxury to not be required to install them. In a site of such limited dimensions, handrails would indeed interfere with the actual design scheme of the interior. But the difference is ultimately cultural.

    You live in a litigious society: you provide a service where if safety is not guaranteed, you are held liable. In Japan, the works of architects is held in such high esteem that they are able to focus on the creativity behind the design, and in turn the architect assumes that the inhabitants are able to behave in such a way that they can navigate a simple set of stairs without falling over. Both parties benefit from the mutual trust and understanding.