House with Light Void by FujiwaraMuro Architects

Skylights replace windows at House with a Light Void by FujiwaraMuro Architects

Five cement-clad boxes illuminated from above are hidden within this almost windowless house in Japan's Hyogo prefecture, designed by FujiwaraMuro Architects.

House with a Light Void is located on a site surrounded by residential streets on three sides and a lack of captivating views.

Blank facade on Japanese house
House with a Light Void's residential location led the architects to design the exterior with very few windows

To appease privacy-conscious clients, Japanese architecture firm FujiwaraMuro Architects chose to draw daylight into the 85-square-metre building primarily via a series of skylights.

These are positioned over vertical volumes at the home's centre and four corners, all finished in cement plaster on the interior.

House with Light Void is lit by skylights
Light is drawn into the building via skylights positioned above cement-clad volumes

Privacy concerns are common among homeowners in Japan's densely populated cities and suburbs, and an absence of street-facing windows is not unheard of in new buildings – 10 examples are collected here.

The entrance to the house is through a wooden door recessed into the north facade of the white-clad volume, into a circulation space that rings the central volume.

Cement boxes house private rooms in the house
The cement boxes house private rooms while living spaces are slotted in between

To one side is the main living area and to the other a small kitchen. The dining room is tucked at the back beside a wooden staircase.

The cement-plaster volumes themselves contain three bedrooms and a closet on the ground floor, while the tower in the middle holds a stack of multi-purpose rooms offset in level from the rest of the building.

Sunken room
Underneath the central volume is a sunken multi-purpose room

At the bottom is a sunken space accessed by a sliding glass pane, followed by another flexible room reached by a wooden ladder above.

Glazed openings in the middle of each floor allow light to travel all the way down from the larger roof window overhead.

House in Japan
Another flexible space directly above is accessed by a wooden ladder

The second storey wraps around the internal perimeter of the rectangular building, leaving gaps around the central volume to form partial double-height spaces.

Stairs land in a linear bathroom, with a sink, shower and toilet at one end, and an enclosed room housing a tub at the other. Doors open onto a balcony that takes the remainder of this level, enclosed by the tall exterior walls along its edges.

Cement covered walls in house by FujiwaraMuro Architects
A delicate staircase leads up to the first floor

Two small glazed windows on the upper floor provide extra light for the bathroom, while an additional open aperture along the opposite facade offers a lookout point from the balcony onto the neighbourhood.

Founded in 2002 by Shintaro Fujiwara and Yoshio Muro, FujiwaraMuro Architects is prolific across its home country, having completed imaginative private houses in several cities and prefectures.

House with Light Void by FujiwaraMuro Architects
Upstairs, a bathroom and an enclosed balcony wrap the building's internal perimeter

Some of the studio's most unique residences include a building fronted by huge vertical louvres and a dwelling that is only 2.5 metres wide.

Photography is by Katsuya Taira.

More images

House with a Light Void, ground floor plan
House with a Light Void, first floor plan
House with a Light Void, roof plan
House with a Light Void, cross section
House with a Light Void, cross section
House with a Light Void, east elevation
House with a Light Void, north elevation