Alphaville's Slice of the City is a house carved into two halves

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Alphaville's Slice of the City is a house cut into two uneven sections

A deep slice through the body of this house by Japanese studio Alphaville reveals a trio of staircases that angle up between different rooms (+ slideshow).

Slice of the City, Japan by Alphaville

Named Slice of the City, the family house is located in a residential area in Nishinomiya, halfway between the Japanese cities of Osaka and Kobe. Properties in this area are typically very close to one another, with no more than a metre between walls.

Slice of the City, Japan by Alphaville

Alphaville architects Kentaro Takeguchi and Asako Yamamoto have worked on various projects with similar restrictions. Solutions they have come up in the past have included adding slanted walls and bridge-like corridors to bring in light while retaining privacy.

Slice of the City, Japan by Alphaville

Here, they chose to develop these ideas further, creating a split-level building that is broken up into two unequal halves by a narrow slice. Instead of simple bridges, angled staircases connect rooms on each side of the divide.

Slice of the City, Japan by Alphaville

This arrangement gives the occupants a secluded courtyard at the centre of their home, which also acts to bring light and ventilation through the building. Additionally, it creates an efficient plan without any space-wasting corridors.

Slice of the City, Japan by Alphaville

"We hoped to make a buffer zone that is able to have a diverse and complicated relationship to the city," explained Alphaville.

"As the void is facing the east and the west directions, it is possible to take in light from the south side. Air is not stagnant, because it is connected to the surrounding open space."

Slice of the City, Japan by Alphaville

"Each room is linked with a bridge-shaped staircase that slightly shifts its location not to intersect the open space," said the team.

Slice of the City, Japan by Alphaville

The house has a wooden column-and-beam structure, but externally it is clad with corrugated sheet metal with a white-painted finish. Windows are directed into the courtyard, allowing them to be generously sized.

Slice of the City, Japan by Alphaville

"Natural light, wind, greenery and the state of the city is connected to each other vertically, horizontally and diagonally in the open space and can be enjoyed by the variously changing shapes through all the windows," added the studio.

Slice of the City, Japan by Alphaville

The house's entrance is located on the north-facing sidewall rather than the front of the building. It sits to one side of a sheltered parking space.

Slice of the City, Japan by Alphaville

Inside, the ground floor contains the master bedroom, bathroom and storage areas. The first staircase leads up to the children's bedroom, while the second continues on to an open-plan living, dining and kitchen space.

Slice of the City, Japan by Alphaville

The third staircase provides access to a roof terrace that is screened behind the exterior walls.

Slice of the City, Japan by Alphaville

Takeguchi and Yamamoto founded their studio in 1998. Other projects by the pair include a diamond-shaped house and artist's studio and a guesthouse inspired by capsule hotels.

Slice of the City was completed in collaboration with structural engineer Ichiro Hashimoto of S3 Associates. The overall floor area of the house is 95 square metres.

Photography is by Toshiyuki Yano.

Slice of the City, Japan by Alphaville
Floor plans – click for larger image
Slice of the City, Japan by Alphaville
Section one – click for larger image
Slice of the City, Japan by Alphaville
Section two – click for larger image