Tato Architects founder Yo Shimada wanted to create a building with a scale that is hard to read from the exterior, and which also contains a "floating" space slotted between the main floors.
The result is a two-storey residence with curved double-height spaces at each end – a living room and a courtyard. A rectangular upper floor sits between these two spaces, while a wooden box underneath encloses a bathroom with a crawl space above.
The staircase curves down around the edge of the living space. It ends above a worktop that wraps the wall, so residents have to walk down over this piece of furniture to reach the floor.
Shimada describes this 75-centimetre-high surface as "floating in the air". He said the arrangement of windows – in three rows – helps to make this landing feel like a space that is separate from the main floors.
"We tried to represent this ambiguous feeling of belonging to neither floors, not just by the actual landing but by other manipulation, such as window arrangement," explained the architect, whose past projects include a house where residents can climb up the walls.
"We placed three rows of windows equally, expecting to bring a scale gap, and a mystical feeling of floating that is similar to the one felt on landings," he added.
Located in Shiga Prefecture, the two-storey House in Hikone accommodates a young couple and their two children. Many nearby plots are unoccupied but will soon be developed to create more houses.
Unlike others nearby, this house sits diagonally on its rectangular site, allowing several patches of lawn around its perimeter. Exterior walls are clad with corrugated metal.
"It appears as if it is renovated from the building for a different use, which we expected to bring a certain type of fresh quality of ruins to this house," added Shimada.
Most of the internal fittings and furnishings are wooden, plus wooden walls and ceiling beams have been left exposed.
A ladder provides access to the crawl space, while the kitchen is provided by an island with a stainless-steel countertop.
Rooms upstairs include a bedroom that can be subdivided if necessary, and a multi-purpose space that can be used as a playroom or as a quiet study area.
Photography is by Shinkenchiku Sha.