written by:
February 1, 2016
Size doesn't matter when these homes push the conventions of building and living in Japan.
Imai House by Katsutoshi Sasaki + Associates

A small space wedged between homes in Okazaki, in South Central Japan, the plot was narrower than some inner-city alleys. But when architect Katsutoshi Sasaki was presented with the challenge of carving out a home for a two-child family in what was ostensibly leftover land, he pivoted. Instead of focusing on the three meter width, he played with length and height to create a light-filled, wood-clad home that used its inherent limitations to its advantages. 

Originally appeared in Minimal Home on a Narrow Plot in Japan
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Concrete planters adjacent facade of tokyo home by Artechnic.

A Tokyo house’s 1,900 square foot labyrinthine interior makes for a dynamic space. Concrete planters frame the facade—a union of monolithic slabs that offers privacy and compositional integrity to the building. The exterior is a plaster finish over insulation and concrete.

 

Originally appeared in This Japanese Home Features Striking Angular Concrete-and-Glass Surfaces
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Modern Japanese hilltop home living and dining area with custom kitchen island and stove vent along with Eames chairs

An established Japanese architecture firm with a yen for porous, indoor-outdoor living spaces crafts a hilltop perch for a young family and the surrounding wildlife. 

Photo by 
Originally appeared in This Hillside Home Exchanges Walls for Bookshelves
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Modern box house in Nagoya, Japan

Takuya and Yurika Ninomiya always dreamed of opening a gallery together. As art lovers, the couple had hoped that if they were lucky, they’d be able to do so after Takuya retired from his job at a printing company and Yurika from hers as a flower designer. But when the Ninomiyas decided to buy their first home, they realized this was their chance. If they commissioned a building incorporating three spaces—a gallery, flower shop, and residence—into one, they’d be able to finance their fantasy. 

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Originally appeared in Small Space Live/Work Box Home in Japan
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oak boards in tiny tokyo home

Masahiro and Mao Harada of Mount Fuji Architects Studio wanted to break with the traditional definition of a house when they designed this small Tokyo home. They achieved their goal by using the same material for the ceiling, the walls, and the floor, creating a space that flows beautifully.  

Originally appeared in Compact Wooden Home in Japan
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Plastic and steel house in Hiroshima Japan with luminescent facade by Suppose

Daisuke Tokuyama told Japanese architect Makoto Tanijiri that he wanted a light-filled home for his family of five—a tall order, considering his narrow property in Hiroshima was boxed in on three sides. To creatively solve the problem, Tanijiri skipped conventional walls altogether and wrapped the entire three-story steel structure in polycarbonate plastic. 

Photo by 
Originally appeared in The Home That Glows in the Dark
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The distance between site and structure is more dramatic in the evening when light shines through the sunken glass living room.

For "2004," a private residence amid a new residential development in Matsumoto, Japan, Nakayama started off with sketches of a girl sleeping on a blanket with a floor hovering above her. What began as an exercise in exploring spatial relationships through rudimentary sketches spiraled into a home that breaks with convention.

Originally appeared in Hideyuki Nakayama's '2004' House
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Slotted between the street-side enclosure and the living area is a breezy second-floor terrace. Brise soleil slats shade the interior. Yatabe’s steel fabrication company created the robust, trusslike armature that extends from the house to support the dec

Drawing on an inherited plot of land, his father’s steel company, and his brother-in-law’s architectural know-how, Motoshi Yatabe’s house is all in the family. A glass facade hidden behind the black enclosure looks onto an ample outdoor space open to the sky: a shady garden on the lower floor and a sheltered terrace just off the living room on the second floor. 

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Small Box Home with Black Metal Facade in Japan
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Imai House by Katsutoshi Sasaki + Associates

A small space wedged between homes in Okazaki, in South Central Japan, the plot was narrower than some inner-city alleys. But when architect Katsutoshi Sasaki was presented with the challenge of carving out a home for a two-child family in what was ostensibly leftover land, he pivoted. Instead of focusing on the three meter width, he played with length and height to create a light-filled, wood-clad home that used its inherent limitations to its advantages. 

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