The Skyward House | acaa
The Skyward House is a small cottage designed for a single woman by architect Kazuhiko Kishimoto of acaa. The cottage looks unassuming from the road below but it has a remarkable interior designed to feel much larger than its 67.1 m2 (722 ft2). The architect divided the small floor plan into two distinct zones, outwardly-focused spaces that connect to the surroundings and a dynamic inward-focused space.
The outward-focused spaces are located at the corners of the square floor plan and not surprisingly include the entry porch and a small side porch. However, the living room, the bathing room and the traditional “Japanese room” are also included. These latter spaces have walls finished with horizontal wood slats matching the exterior cladding of the cottage, giving them an outside feel. They also have windows that stretch from wall to wall and from near floor level to the ceiling, all but erasing the boundary between inside and out. The living room especially looks and feels more like an open porch than an enclosed room.
With a very different feel, the inward-focused zone consists of several connected spaces that pinwheel around the center of the small house. These spaces are open to each other and include the kitchen, the dining area and a bedroom alcove. With only a few small windows (almost all of which look into or through other spaces rather than directly to the outside), attention is drawn to the interior instead. There are unexpected angled walls, a vaulted ceiling that rises to a skylight at the peak, and internal windows providing glimpses of the adjacent rooms.
Despite the openness, you cannot see the whole space from any single vantage point, creating a sense of mystery. Light plays an important role as well, spilling down from the skylight above and reflecting off the all-white surfaces. Though the inner spaces are small and relatively closed off from the exterior, they avoid any feeling of claustrophobia by being open to each other and by an arrangement that allows for long views through the house.
By contrast, the outward-focused rooms feel much larger than their modest sizes due to their openness to the scenery. Although open to the outdoors, they have been intentionally isolated from the inner space. The entrance to the living room is awkwardly located at the end of the kitchen rather than at the center of the house, while getting to the side porch requires passing through the utility/pantry room. Entering the Japanese room may be the most awkward of all: The doorway is so low, most adults would have to duck their heads to pass through. These transitions emphasize the sense of entering a different part of the house, making the whole house feel larger as a result.
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