This project started with a conversation with the client, about pouring sunlight and breeze through the house, things which are gifts from nature.
I think that houses nowadays tend to be too closed off. Is this because it is the only way to face the city, or perhaps because of the deterioration of the environment?
I wondered if it was possible to create a kind of ‘scenery’ by applying opposites such as stronger/weaker, calm/lively and light/dark. These are the keys to this house.
This house is located in the west of Kobe city close to Suma beach. I expected to see a mature cityscape running along the coast. However what I saw was an elusive, chaotic and careless kind of scenery.
After the serious damage from the Hanshin Earthquake, empty sites, parking areas, and speculative homes etc cover this area and there are no views of the sea or mountains behind. I was thinking if the house should be an opened box or a closed box, how to open and close is a common theme when designing a house in this town.
This is a house for a couple and a child and consists of a parking space and work-room on the first floor, a bedroom, child’s room, bathroom, wash room and toilet on the second floor and living, dining and kitchen on the third floor. It is 5.7mx7.5m rectangle with 2 concrete walls running south to north, and the ‘Ma’ spaces ( porch and court yard) at the north end and the south end, and three levels of void slabs. They are all well integrated with each other.
The public space on the first floor is open, the private space on the second floor is closed and the third floor is open again. ‘Open, Closed and open’. As you go up along the promenade-like stairs, the ‘scenery’, ‘light and shadow’, ‘the flow of the wind’ and ‘the level of the ceiling’ varies dramatically. The sense of openness and scenery when you reach the top of the promenade-stairs is expansive.
Each room has a different character
The entrance on the first floor has an open-feeling like an exterior space because it is almost all glass. The work-room can be called ‘borrowed scenery space’. The horizontal window of this room is set at eye-level and the level of the long counter and the courtyard floor is about the same to create a sense of continuity.
Even though the second floor is a ‘Closed’ space, the light and wind can be felt from the top-light and the courtyard.
The stair-room has plenty of natural daylight from the side-light and this light reaches right down to the entrance on the first floor. All the rooms are facing the courtyard and have a 3200mm ceiling height to realize the sense of openness and to accommodate the loft space. The washroom, bathroom and the toilet also have a top light to take in the daylight and the wind. The third floor is actually like an outside space which is released from the horizon but successfully obtains a second horizon. The sequence with the outside was emphasized by the light ‘floating’ steel roof and this lightness dissolves the existence of the roof. I wanted the feeling of a subtle distance from the ground and to create another world. In other words, I wanted to create a space where we can feel the cityscape is like a landscape by obtaining ‘scenery’, ‘light’, ‘wind’ and ‘airiness’.
I wanted to express a way to feel nature abstractly and fundamentally in the city. Not just considering the site conditions, surrounding environment and program of the building but also I wanted to realize a space where the scenery, the direction of light and the flow of the wind changes.
I am hoping that this liveliness will be able to show how the space, which is closed to the city actually feels very open.