Situated within the quiet neighborhood of Okusawa in Tokyo, the house is adjoined by residents from the three sides and the street in front. The challenge was to accommodate patio spaces, as client requested from the beginning of the project, within the rather elongated small residential lot. In addition, the houses on both sides were still under construction during our design process, thus the location of the outdoor spaces as well as its relationship with the interior spaces became quite crucial. After carefully experimenting with several schemes, we decided to place two patios, both of which are 2.7m by 4.2m in their dimensions -- one near the adjacent street on the south side and the other on the back of the house on the north. Furthermore, some rooms were allocated to the semi-basement floor underneath them to minimize the building volume.
The patios serve various functions since most of the rooms were placed along them. Surrounded by exterior walls, these cavities fully and partially shield the views from the surroundings, allowing for relatively larger openings in the house. On the other hand, they act as apparatus not only to bring the daylight into the interior but also, with the wall being the same color as the rooms, to amplify the perceived interior space. While the north patio surrounded by the entrance/stair-hall and the bathroom provides more private space, the south patio near the street mediates between the outside and inside of the house, being a semi-public space which visually draws a bit of surrounding contexts into the interior spaces. In addition, although the fac,ade adjacent to the street has no openings, the glimpse of the patio from the street makes it less oppressive. Applying appropriate wall heights for the patio and upper volumes resulted in fragmenting the fac,ade and reducing the overall volume, further fitting the house to the scale of the neighborhood.
The house is structured with exposed reinforced concrete for the half-basement portion and wood framings for the rest. The half-basement floor elevates the 1st floor level 1m above the entrance and consequently all the floors become split-leveled. All the interior space, thus, is perceptibly weaved together via entrance/stair hall and creates a spacious open space encompassing the patios. The stark contrast of black and white used in the walls clearly defines the house’s inner and outer appearances, further articulating the overall design.