Step into Homes Built by Architects

A House Where Light and Shadow Play

Lifestyle Culture

Lattice flooring that doubles as a ceiling in this house lets through light and air, creating a sense of connection between the upper and lower stories.

Komazawa no jūtaku (Komazawa House) (designed by Gō Hasegawa and Associates, 2011) viewed from the east.

Looking down at the living room from the stairs.

A large window lets in light by the staircase.

Cozy bedrooms on the upper floor.

The study sometimes becomes an impromptu playroom.

The play of light and shadows through the lattice ceiling.

This house appears quite similar to others in its Komazawa neighborhood in Setagaya, Tokyo. The architects sought a new style, however, by reinterpreting Japan’s archetypal postwar housing through the material used in walls, the relationship between the upper and lower stories, and the positioning of the windows. The subdued colors of the eucalyptus planks used for the walls and roof convey something of the atmosphere of traditional kominka folk houses.

The owners previously lived on the top floor of an apartment building, which they found sunny and well ventilated. They wished for the same conditions in their new home, while at the same time maintaining their privacy. Despite the limited space, they also wanted a large living room.

The second-story floor, which also serves as the first-story ceiling, takes inspiration from traditional Japanese lattice doors. The gaps between planks connect the two spaces, allowing light from the skylight to pass through to the lower rooms and creating impressive shadows.

The large window in the living room is set high enough on the wall to guarantee privacy. Following the traditional shakkei technique, the room “borrows” the view of neighboring plum trees.

The father enjoys looking out at the sky from the bathroom. Meanwhile, the family dog—the same age as the house—settles regularly on the landing at the top of the stairs, which is the only place where it is possible to see the street outside.

© Jérémie Souteyrat

(Originally written in French by Véronique Hours and Fabien Mauduit and published on May 3, 2018. Photographs by Jérémie Souteyrat. Banner photo: The study in Komazawa no jūtaku, designed by Gō Hasegawa and Associates, 2011.)

This series is based on a project called L’Archipel de la Maison (Japan, Archipelago of Houses), initiated by Jérémie Souteyrat and the French architects Véronique Hours, Fabien Mauduit, and Manuel Tardits. An exhibition was held in various locations in Europe in 2014 and in Tokyo in 2017. Exhibition catalogs are available in French from Le Lézard noir and in Japanese from Kajima Publishing.

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