Tokyo-based Sugawaradaisuke wanted Transustainable House in the Chofu district to reference its surroundings, but as buildings in the city are regularly demolished and rebuilt, they chose to do this with a rusted exterior that is designed to reflect the climate.
"Exposed to the rain, wind, and sunlight, the weathering of the surface creates dappled rust, memorising the vernacular micro-climate over time," said architect Daisuke Sugawara. "The architectural appearance is not designed by an architect, but is defined by the actual behaviour of the natural phenomena."
The architects, whose other projects include a house with a black facade and roof, created a mixture of outdoor, indoor and "semi-indoor" areas throughout the two-storey house to make it feel bigger than its 38-square-metre footprint. They also covered the ground floor in pebbles to blur the distinction between indoor and outdoor spaces.
Private rooms – a bedroom and multipurpose room on the ground floor, and a kitchen and bedroom on the first floor – are arranged diagonally at opposite corners of the house, and voids have been cut into the other corners to create courtyards at the front and back of the house.
The living room and stairwell are designed as semi-indoor areas in the middle of the house, with large sliding windows to create views between the different rooms and floors the house, and out to the street beyond.
"The semi-indoor areas extend the residents' spatial perception beyond the site boundary, over the enclosed semi-transparent walls," said Sugawara.
The mixture of open, closed and semi-closed space is also designed to offer the occupants greater flexibility and control in how they heat and cool the house throughout the year.
"Thermal environments in urban areas tend to be a simple choice between the artificially controlled indoor, and the rest of the uncontrolled outdoor," said Sugawara. "In this house, the artificial and the natural are blended in gradients, which produces diverse choices to be made by the thermal perception of the residents."
Sugawaradaisuke designed the house to satisfy a range of living situations, so that it remains useful in the future. Rooms upstairs could be occupied by parents, and rooms downstairs could be occupied by a young couple and a boarder, or vice versa.
"Currently, there are 50,000 individual houses in Japan. If this method is applied to all of them, parts of those private houses can be opened to not only urban nomadic residents but also to the community," said Sugawara. "This method has potential to play a major role in the society as a stock of closed private dwelling spaces."
Photography is by Jérémie Souteyrat.
Design: Sugawaradaisuke – Daisuke Sugawara, Noriyuki Ueakasaka, Hiroshi Narahara
Design Corporation for DD drawings: Yuko Hiura, Chihiro Kotaka, Masayuki Harada
Structural Design: RGB Structure – Masayuki Takada
Lighting Design: TOH design – Aki Hayakawa
Plantation Design: GA Yamazaki
Plaster Work: Nurikan
Construction: Sou Kenchiku Co., Ltd.