This is a project to build a house for a couple in their 50s who lives with a dog, on 260 sq. meters land located in suburb Tokyo area surrounded by houses and condos.
The requirement was straightforward. No privacy required within the house, as long as the privacy is guaranteed from the outside of the house, and be able to do whatever they want and live freely inside. There were absolutely no requirements to provide conveniences, other than the basics. Therefore, the goal is to provide free space. Rather than limiting the residents’ activities by the space given, I wanted to provide a space whereby its meaning will flexibly change based on the residents’ choice of activities.
However, it’s not as simple as providing an open broad space, as such space might become a free space for people with certain intent, but for others it’ll just become a meaningless space like a desert which in contrary limits human activities. Free space should allow any activity with various intents, just like a street. On an open street, there are people enjoying meal at outdoor café, or people sitting on sidewalks to read books, or people resting under the tree shade, or kids chasing dogs. It’s the people who choses what to do, that characterizes the street. I wanted to realize this concept for this house. Just like a street changes seamlessly as walking down, and attracts various human activities, I wanted to build such diverse space inside this house. As such, the house comes with two courtyards each containing a small forest that changes their appearances depending on the time of the day or the season. The hallways are built around these courtyards forming the shape of “8”. Different heights were given to the floors and ceilings, various flooring was used and different brightness was given to the space to provide the diversity. As for the kitchen and bathroom where the activities are naturally limited to cooking and bathing, they were placed seamlessly so they won’t be recognized as independent spaces and be used as part of the residents’ daily activities.
When the house shows various views each day and lead the residents to perform various activities, I believe that’s when the residents truly earned their free space.