A sculptural house for a tight urban site | Sou Fujimoto Architects
This small house, designed for a family of four, has a sculptural shape that from some angles resembles an iceberg. And like an iceberg, part of the house lies below the surface. The roof volume is a gentle swoosh, rising out of the ground at the living room, which is mostly underground, and peaking over the bedrooms at the other end.
The swooping shape isn’t just for aesthetics though. The property is a “flagpole” site with no real street frontage other than a narrow access path. Apartment buildings hem in the house on three sides, but a cluster of trees stands to the west. The sloped roof and angled sidewall were a clever solution that allowed architect Sou Fujimoto to focus the views towards the sky and the treetops, rather than having windows directly face the apartments. Angling the wall back also kept the northside entry path more open and sunlit.
The glass entry vestibule leads into the ground-level kitchen and dining area in the middle of the house. A wide set of stairs follows the roof up to the children’s lofted bedroom, which gives them a view over the entire open living space. Their parents’ bedroom and the bathroom are located below the stairs. At the low end of the house, the living room was sunk into the ground. Though still open to the kitchen and dining areas, it nonetheless has a cozy, cocoon-like feel.
A narrow stairway and ladder provide access to the roof through operable skylights. The roof surface, with built-in benches and planters, provides the family with outdoor space. A disadvantage of the sloped roof design, however, is that there isn’t any really flat space that would allow them to rearrange the furniture at will. Perched at the edge of the roof is a “hanare”, a small ancillary building often found in the gardens or courtyards of traditional Japanese houses. This one can function as a gazebo when its sliding doors are open, or as a home office, hobby room or guest room (it has its own powder room) with the doors closed.
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