Frank la Rivière, Architects inc
Aomori, Japan | View Map
Project Year
Private Houses


Frank la Rivière, Architects inc as Architects

Constructed on a deep plot of land in Aomori prefecture, this low budget project N-House would automatically be long stretched. My response to this characteristic of the site was to explore a feel of openness and transparence by making the depth of the space measurable through the introduction of in-between zones to separate the main spaces and cut through the space in the cross direction. The result is a layering of space. In the length from the entrance door, one can see through the living room, dining area and the Japanese room into the garden behind the house. At the second level of N-House the openness in the length can be changed by opening or closing sliding doors.

By placing the service functions in a small zone along the North side between double walls the house was given a backbone that stretches the whole length of the house. Against this enclosure the main spaces such as the living dining kitchen, Japanese room and the bedrooms are placed in linear direction over two floors. The void over the living room creates a strong connection with the second floor but also gives the house it’s center of gravity. A higher degree of openness was created on the South side that allows for a strong relation with the exterior and lets in a lot of natural light and sun light. Both the client requirement for a warm house and good views of the surrounding mountains and ski-slopes were solved in this way. The sun light warms up the house and the windows give strategic views of the surrounding.

Being in an area of Japan with cold winters with a lot of snow in addition to this passive heat gain on the south side glazing, the house was isolated with 100mm insulation material and all the windows were fitted with pair glass. The main structure is a wooden column and post structure left exposed in the ceilings of the main spaces. Only a few finishing materials are used and in a clear order. The walls in the length of the house are finished with 900x900mm square meranti plywood panels treated with transparent lacquer while in contrast in the cross direction the walls are finished in Japanese spruce plywood. The floors are in birch plywood for the main spaces and orange brown plywood (Nitax Wisa Light Brown from Finland that is protected with a poly-vinyl layer developed as material for concrete formwork) for the in-between zones. This is not so much a building-order that organizes the building, but more a dimensioning system that gives order and proportion to the building through a network of relating joints. The Modulation of dimensions is based on the basic module of 900 x 900 and stepped down by halving to 450 x 900, or 450 x 450, or 225. Through this dimensional hierarchy from the structure down to the finishes, a sense of unity and refinement was achieved in spite of the rawness of some of the materials (meranti walls).

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