Half Barn in Hashimoto by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects

Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects marries indoors and outdoors with Half Barn in Hashimoto

A simple gabled barn structure frames half interior, half exterior spaces in this rural Japanese home by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects.

The Half Barn in Hashimoto is a single-family residence located among mountain ranges, barns, houses and persimmon fields in the Wakayama prefecture.

The Half Barn in Hashimoto
The Half Barn in Hashimoto puts a twist on the classic gabled structure

Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects used a simple form with a gabled roof and straightforward timber-frame construction, but made an impact by dividing the structure in two along the roof ridge and only using one half for the home interior.

The other half of the symmetrical timber frame is left exposed, marking out an outdoor space partly shielded by an awning overhead and shutters along one side.

Half Barn in Hashimoto timber frame with wall of glazing
One half of the timber frame is left open as a semi-outdoor space

This space is filled with gently undulating earth and stones, and will later be planted with small trees.

"As a space where humans and nature confront each other, it was decided that half of the barn would be inside and half would be outside," said Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects.

"That architecture and the surrounding environment should be able to respond positively to one another was another intention of this design."

Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects' Hashimoto house
The house is entirely made from simple industrial materials

The Half Barn in Hashimoto is also connected to nature through its topographic design. The architects modified the initially flat site to give it an uneven, raised terrain, with an area of low ground running through the outdoor space.

This not only mimics the surrounding landscape of the Kinokawa River and the nearby mountain ranges, but also serves to protect the house from flooding by elevating most of the rooms.

All of the most-used features of the home — the bedroom, pantry, kitchen, living and dining area, and a tatami space — are situated on the raised terrain above the predicted level of inundation.

Below it, on the ground floor, are only bathrooms and storage spaces.

Doma floor entrance in timber Hashimoto house
The house features a sinuous stepped timber interior loosely marking different zones

With a total floor area of 96 square metres, the Half Barn in Hashimoto is built from simple industrial materials.

The exterior walls are corrugated cement board and wood-wool cement board and the roof is corrugated slate sheet, while cedar wood is used throughout in either lumber or plywood form.

Barn-like timber home interior connected to the outdoors
The house is divided along the roof ridge by glazing that creates a connection between indoors and outdoors

Inside the home, wood surfaces were left largely exposed as another way of complementing the surrounding nature.

A curved doma soil floor at the entrance bridges the indoor and outdoor space and leads on to an interior marked out by similarly sinuous timber steps.

Exterior of Half Barn in Hashimoto passive house
The house is built to make the most of east-west winds for ventilation

"In Japanese traditions, entrance space is always kept differentiated from the rest of interior space," said the architects.

"In order to express that, there is always a variation in floor materials. In this residence, doma has been used for the same."

Wall of glazing in Japanese timber house
The main living areas are on raised terrain to protect them from flooding

The client approached Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects after reading about their passive residential project Ma of Wind.

The Half Barn in Hashimoto is similarly positioned to make the most of wind flow in the east-west direction, increasing ventilation into its internal and semi-external spaces.

Another project by the Japanese architecture studio is a more unconventional house in the city of Sakai with an egg-shaped "tomb" attached.

Photography is by Kaori Ichikawa.

More images and plans

Exterior of timber framed house lit up at nighttime
The house is elevated on raised terrain to protect it from flooding