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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
"Each room is linked with a bridge-shaped staircase that slightly shifts its location not to intersect the open space," said the team.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
The third staircase provides access to a roof terrace that is screened behind the exterior walls.
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.