A small wooden house by Kazuya Morita
This small house in a suburb of Kyoto was designed by Kazuya Morita Architecture Studio. The house appears ordinary at first glance, with its simple rectangular form and gabled roof, but it was designed with attention to detail and quality materials. The house has real wood siding, which is quite rare to see on new houses in Japan these days. With land being very expensive, many homebuilders try to cut costs by using cheap exterior finishes. By building smaller, you can use some of the savings to splurge on a better grade of finishes and fixtures.
The house has a traditional Japanese entry sequence with a front door that slides open and leads to the genkan, a sunken area for removing shoes. However the architect incorporated an unexpected element into this traditional entry. You have to look closely to see it in the photo above, but the front stoop is sheltered by a very modernist metal plate jutting straight out of the wall.
Adjacent to the genkan is the living room whose soaring vaulted ceiling opens the space up to the upper floor. The architect designed the high ceiling to assist with cooling and heating. During hot weather, a skylight at the peak can be opened to exhaust warm air out the top of the house while drawing in cooler air at ground level. In winter, heat from the living room’s wood stove is able to freely circulate up to the second floor sleeping area. The living room window is very high in the wall, located there by the architect for a good reason: It offers a vista of mountains and sky while blocking views of (and from) the houses across the street.
Wood was also used extensively on the inside. The living area features a large peeled log supporting the upper floor and extending up to the ceiling. The interior combines several very different types of wood to good effect, as seen below: a rustic-looking wood with lots of knots on the floor; a refined straight-grained and blemish-free wood for the doors, trim and cabinetry; and, a wood with large tonal variations that gives the ceiling a striped look. It’s like wearing stripes with plaid and managing to pull it off.
The downstairs also has an eat-in kitchen and an office area. The bathroom, located behind the kitchen, offers both a shower area and bathtub. A window was placed so that bathers can enjoy the view while soaking in the tub. The house is currently configured with one large bedroom upstairs. However the bedroom was provided with two doors so that it can be divided into two smaller bedrooms if the need arises.
Enjoy the photos!
Photographs courtesy of Kazuya Morita Architecture Studio.
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