The perplexing House in Inokashira by Studio NOA

House in Inokashira by Studio NOA

This small house in Tokyo is wedged onto a thin strip of land between the street and a steep forested hillside. The narrow lot offered no real choice as to where to place the dwelling. The architects from Studio NOA dug the house into the toe of the hill, holding back the slope with a large retaining wall that also forms the back wall of the house. The footprint of the house tapers and has a slight bend as it conforms to the shape of the lot.

The 86 m2 (926 ft2) house has a split-level plan, with the switchback stairs located at the bend in the floor plan. The wider end contains a low-ceiling storage room at ground level, the spacious master bedroom in the middle, and the bathroom and compact open plan living area at the top. The narrower end of the house has the entrance, a second bedroom and a rooftop terrace.

House in Inokashira by Studio NOA

The house is built of concrete, with the concrete walls of the lower level left exposed. The upper levels, walls and windows alike, are covered by a screen of cedar boards. The boards are mounted flat but spaced a few inches apart, allowing some light to pass through. The screen gives the house an interesting texture and an intriguing mysterious character. However it also blocks most of the view from the windows; looking out is like trying to peek out through closed vertical blinds. It may be that the view out is nothing special, and that the buildings across the street are so close that privacy is more important than views out. Still, it would be nice to look out once in a while and I wonder if angling the boards one way or the other, like partly open vertical blinds, would have worked.

House in Inokashira by Studio NOA

Even more curious is that the other side of the house, facing the bamboo forest and seemingly with no privacy issues, has only a few very small windows. The one in the bathroom is awkwardly placed and from the floor plan it looks like it cannot even be seen from the soaking tub. At the top of the house is a roof terrace, but its walls are so high that you can only glimpse the treetops by looking up. Not many homeowners in Tokyo have the good fortune of living next to a forest, so it seems very strange that they didn’t take more advantage of the unique site.

House in Inokashira by Studio NOA

roof terrace

We previously looked at another project by Studio NOA, the tiny House in Sanno.

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Images courtesy of Studio NOA. Via ArchDaily.

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