This house in Mejiro is an example of how small spaces with clean lines and meticulous detailing can result in an inspiring environment even in a cluttered neighborhood. Located in busy residential area in Tokyo, the site for the 207-square-meter house faces two private roads on its south and west, with the street on the south culminating in a dead end a short distance from the house. All streets in this area are packed with houses on both sides, each struggling for a measure of privacy for its inhabitants as well as some sunlight. The strict sunlight regulations and height restrictions necessary to make such areas inhabitable also result in challenges for the architects here. While some houses turn their back on the street with a solid facade devoid of windows, other houses have small windows on the street, with shutters and curtains that stay permanently drawn. However, the client for this house asked the architects Mori Kiyotoshi and Kawamura Natsuko of MDS Studio to create a feeling of openness as well as privacy for his house. His request also included a double height living room filled with light. The architects started the design a house that would add something positive to the streetscape while fulfilling the design brief of the owner.
The solution was to make the house open and relatively transparent at the street level, while lowering the level of the living areas below and above the site-line from the street, thus reinventing the usual exterior-foyer-interior continuum. The house in fact acts as a visual relief on its two streets that are otherwise closed on both sides. A passerby can see right across the house through the glass walls. The only room visible from the street is the art gallery for the art collector owner, which adds to the positive experience of the street.
Form the entrance level, an airy staircase takes residents down to the living area and up to the bedroom level. The double-height living room does not feel like a basement because it is has open patios on either side, and is filled with daylight from the tall windows and skylights. The breeze from outside can flow through the house, and the diagonal views of the clean minimalist spaces on various levels provide a sense of spaciousness in the house. The views of the blue sky during the day and the starry night, as well as the changing colors and angles of light with different seasons, time and weather , make this a comfortable space. The architects believe that design should respond to the absolute elements of light, wind and time as well as the individual needs of the owners.