“Forest Bath” by Kyoko Ikuta and Katsuyuki Ozeki
In Japan, a “forest bath” refers to taking a leisurely stroll in the woods while breathing in the scent of the trees as a form of natural aromatherapy. The clients for this summer house in the forest were an elderly couple who desired more of a place to relax and hang out than a base from which to do things. As such, they wanted to be able to take a “forest bath”, enjoying the sights and smells of nature, from the privacy of their home. While their property did have trees, it unfortunately did not offer a great deal of privacy. With neighbors within sight on all sides, the challenge for architects Kyoko Ikuta and Katsuyuki Ozeki was to provide views of nature while as much as possible avoiding views of and from the neighbors.
Approached from the road, the small house has the look of a quintessential gable-roofed cottage with the roof planes extending low to the ground on either side. However on entering, you see that the architects carved out a large triangular courtyard from the middle of the house. The angled walls of the courtyard block out the neighbors while focusing the view towards a cluster of treetops highlighted by a 35 foot tall Japanese larch. Sunlight filtering through the branches dapples the patio. An all-glass wall separates main living area from the courtyard for unimpeded views from inside.
The house has 71.4 m2 (768 ft2) of floor space, not counting the courtyard. Besides the open living/dining/kitchen area, there is one bedroom and a bathroom in the triangular wings left on either side of the courtyard. The short eaves walls are also composed entirely of glass, with floor-level windows running the length of the house on both sides. Complementing the treetop views, the low windows provide views of the ground-level foliage while maintaining a high degree of privacy.
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Photographs by Tomohiro Sakashita, courtesy of Kyoko Ikuta Architecture Laboratory.
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