Tato Architects / Yo Shimada

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House in Kawanishi

Location / Hyogo,Japan
Type / House
Family Structure / couple + 3 children

Tato Architects
Team /Yo Shimada Takeo Watanabe Shinpei Oda
S³ Associates
Team /Ichiro Hashimoto

Separate order

Main Structure – Steel construction on concrete mat foundation
Site Are 120.54 ㎡
Building Area 59.86 ㎡ (49.66 % of max 50 % of coverage ratio permission)
Total Floor Area 107.73 ㎡ (88.78 % of max 100 % of floor area ratio permission)
First floor 54.78 ㎡
Second floor 52.95㎡

This project presented an unusual challenge: A public walkway ran adjacent to the western boundary of the site. It narrowed awkwardly from a three meter-wide road coming from north, to a mere seventy centimetres on the eastern border to the southern corner of the site.
If walls had been built on the boundary of the site to protect the residents’ privacy from the many pedestrians, who use this path, the path would narrow oppressively and become more difficult for the area’s residents to use.
So instead, the ground floor was set back from the boundary to give space and to give the impression that the full width of the path continued through. The second floor of the house was built hanging over the path, aligning with the actual boundary of the site and its border with the road. The glazed entrance area containing a shoe cabinet therefore appears to sit beyond the border between the public and private spaces. It sits reminiscent of a bus stop containing furniture brought there by locals.
This theme of crossing borders is carried through the entire house design. Using the line of the neighbour’s concrete block wall, a new block wall was built through to the south, crossing the interior space and in the end becoming a wall for a storage space. The area above the storage space forms a landing for the stairs, and the level of the first floor has been adjusted to function as a desk sitting over the landing. This creates an area that oscillates on the border between floor and desk. Seen from the street, ground floor and first floor, plus, interior and exterior all appear to cross over.
The interior walls of the upper volume are all Lauan Plywood, which creates a singular space that stands in contrast to the ground floor, which contains a variety of materials and features.
A grid defines the plan, with four squares slightly shifted off centre, and a modified square hipped roof formed by raising it at the centre. The simple, slim rigid joint frame structure consists of 125mm×125mm square steel columns and 200mm×100mm H section steel beams. It gains its strength through its stiffness, by the low ceiling height and by the column bases buried in the foundation. On the edge of the eaves, small section flat steel pipes are inserted to channel the steel rafters around the structure.
The concrete block wall on the ground floor stands without counterforts through the support of flat steel bars inserted into some of the block holes.
The whole design suggests an evolving living space with features, that appear to cross beyond boundaries yet control them at the same time.

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