Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Houzz Tour: Courtyards and Calm in Tokyo Home

Take a look at this isolated home in Japan...

Article taken off

Houzz Tour: Courtyards and Calm in Tokyo Home

With fluid indoor-outdoor boundaries and an air of mystique, this isolated home is a serene retreat for a writer in Japan.

Like a timid child hiding behind parents, the Cross House in Koganei, Tokyo, peeks out from the bushes warily — which doesn't come as a surprise, as lead architect Yukio Asari intended for the house to sit humbly in its surroundings. "From a passerby's standpoint, the house should reveal itself slowly and quietly," says Asari. His client, a novelist who wanted an isolated home, asked Asari to build a house that resembled the one in Victor Erice's film The Spirit of the Beehive, a place where the writer could feel a sense of connection to the natural world.

Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here: A novelist
Location: Tokyo
Size: 1,776 square feet
That's interesting: The site has a bus stop that makes an appearance in Hayao Miyazaki's film The Secret World of Arrietty.

From this perspective, the house seems to dissolve into its environment. Asari and his team conceived of a home that would diffuse easily into nature, with the river and the cherry trees in the background, just as if it had been there from the very beginning.

To reduce the sense of oppressiveness that the house might project for passersby, Asari appended two right-angled corners onto the trapezoid-shape site and created a sloping, cross-shaped roof as well as a cross-shaped floor plan. Asari says, "The result is an architectural volume that morphs into a line, rather than presenting a 'face,' at the point where the structure comes closest to the landscaped walkway."

Exterior views are accessible from every corner.

Natural light sources are carefully focused and targeted, allowing the client to circulate freely without needing excessive artificial light.

As sunlight shifts from one place to the next, the house evolves, changing its mood and character with the sunlight throughout the day.

The Cross House has access to four interior courtyards for private enjoyment. They visually connect the space to its surroundings, and multiple openings allow broad access.

As seen in this image and in the washroom in the next, transparent glass windows and doors throughout the structure help extend the exterior to the interior.

The second-floor writer's study shows the client's pared-down necessities for his craft: a computer, a chair and a desk. Light from the honeycomb stained-glass window — a replica of the one in The Spirit of the Beehive — casts an amber glow. The study is a space of calm and creativity, fulfilling the client's need for quiet in the house.

The sloping surfaces of the low-pitched, cross-shaped roof come into contact with the facade of the house on all four sides, eliminating the need for long vertical walls.

A spartan bedroom provides the perfect place for Asari's client to rest. Although not visible in this picture, the bedroom has a balcony.

The Cross House's reticent daytime character seems to gain confidence at night. The downlights and honeycomb glass window in the study highlight the joining of the right-angled corners; the surrounding vegetation seems to retreat. The Cross House glows, and instead of dissolving into its environment as it does during the day, it emerges as the prominent presence on the site.