APOLLO Architects and Associates
Shinjuku, Japan
Project Year
Private Houses
Masao Nishikawa

The client is a couple in their 50s and both work full-time. Their plan was to rebuild their parents’ house in the urban area in order to live with their mother. The site is located in a dense residential area where one can find the remnant of good old days of Tokyo. In order to prepare for possible natural disasters in the future, the couple wished to build a house of reinforced concrete box frame construction with high resistance to fire and earthquakes. Since the site is small with a deformed shape, it was required to achieve the maximum capacity while avoiding setback-line limits on each side of the house.

One cannot have a full view of the house since it is built at the very end of a blind alley. The building consists of three stories, with two floors above ground and a basement floor, and a half of the basement floor is buried underground in order to achieve the maximum capacity by taking advantage of easing of the restrictions.

The outline of the deformed land was extruded three dimensionally to form the house, and the charming appearance of the exposed concrete box topped with a roof resembling a pointed hat catches the eye of passers-by.

Their mother’s room is on the semi-basement floor, down the stairs next to the entrance in the entrance court. The entire floor plan is designed compactly: the couple’s space is on the first floor with two study rooms, for the husband and wife respectively; a bedroom between the studies; and a wet area. Although it appears rather closed from the outside, the interior space with a sense of openness with abundant natural light is achieved by providing the courtyard.

The family room on the second floor is shaped along the setback-line limits, and the wooden rafters are used for the roof truss instead of reinforced concrete ones, creating a unique appearance of the mixed structure.

One feels a distinct centripetal force in the loft-like small space with a courtyard, which somehow reminding one of a yurt, a dwelling of Mongolian nomads. The entire roof is lit up by the ambient light, creating a sense of security in such a small space, as if staying under the shelter of a big tree. 

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