With a flag shaped site, bound on every side by close neighbors, the understandable instinct might be to step away from the city, retreat behind walls where privacy is better assured. The family that purchased the site saw instead a chance to be as open as possible, using the small degree of isolation as an opportunity to connect to the city. Although the neighbors are close, the tendency in Tokyo is to reject the city and build closed walls, and indeed that is the case here, ironically allowing the family to open their home without loss of privacy.
The site is not unlike a clearing in the midst of a forest.On the ground floor the concrete floor extends out to form the landscape, softened by an abstract form that blurs boundaries - not between inside and out, but between city and home. On the second floor, terraces and stair landings take on the same task.
A small budget required that we use a wooden structure, and that we build as simply as possible. A wooden structure in a disaster prone area normally works against our ambitions for open-ness, requiring substantial sheer walls to resist earthquakes. To answer this need without losing the intent to open the spaces we built large X-shaped walls at either end of the house. Like flying buttresses, these work as structure without interfering with the desire for openness.
The first floor and second floor are each treated as single rooms, with boxes containing the bath and toilet working as rough dividers in the open plan. The level of the second floor was lifted to 3 meters so the family could see out to the river valley from their living room, looking over the roofs of their neighbors on the hilly site. Taking advantage of the 3-meter-high ceilings on the ground floor, a large long-term storage is hung from the ceiling, freeing up floor space for daily life. With a small site the ceiling becomes as important as the floor.