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Squeezing In Beside a Shrine

Jérémie Souteyrat [Profile]/Véronique Hours [Profile]/Fabien Mauduit [Profile]/Manuel Tardits [Profile]


A distinctively shaped house on a thin piece of land beside a shrine catches the eye in a Kyoto suburb.

A bird’s eye view from the west of O-tei (O House) (designed by Nakayama Hideyuki, 2009). It stands next to the vermilion shrine fence.

The house catches the eye of passers-by.

The hall, as viewed from the north.

Hanging on the stairs from the kitchen to the second floor.

A view straight down from the stairs to the hall.

The hall is visible from the children’s room on the second floor.

A house with a singular shape, and a small silhouette in the night.

This house for a family of five is located in Sakyō Ward, Kyoto. The owners were not born in the old capital, which is sometimes said to be cliquish, but they made the move there for work reasons. The splendid cherry tree in the neighboring shrine also played a part in their decision to buy the land.

After making the decision, they asked a young architect they knew to design the house. They appreciated his contemporary sensibility and readiness to listen. There had to be a large free space for the whole family, where they could spend time with the neighbors, talk about politics or the day’s events, let the children play, and even hold cooking classes.

The shape of the house is reminiscent of the buildings where mikoshi (portable shrines) are stored. It is centered on the large hall, with the kitchen/dining room, bathroom, and storage areas to left and right. A small garden surrounds three sides, while the bedrooms are on the mezzanine and second floors.

As the owners wished, it is a strange and surprising house, capable of adaptation through the seasons. The owners say they hate air conditioners, so they have none installed. In winter, the children draw pictures with their fingers on the windows misted with condensation. In summer, everyone escapes the heat of the second floor and sleeps downstairs. The windows are open to both the breeze and insects.

© Jérémie Souteyrat

(Originally written in French by Véronique Hours, Fabien Mauduit, and Manuel Tardits, and published on September 6, 2018. Photographs by Jérémie Souteyrat. Banner photo: A view from the northwest of O-tei [O House], designed by Nakayama Hideyuki, 2009.)

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.

  • [2018.10.26]

Photographer. Born in France in 1979. Graduated from university in engineering in 2001. In 2009 moved to Tokyo, where he now works as a professional photographer. Has done work for various magazines and newspapers, including Le Monde, Elle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Der Spiegel. Published his first photo collection Tokyo no ie (Tokyo Houses) in France in 2017, and Japan in 2017.


Architect. Born in Montreal, Canada. Now lives in southern France. In 2008, she cofounded the A. P. Arts collective, promoting interdisciplinary creativity in the fields of architecture, landscapes, and art. In 2013, she traveled around Japan researching unique houses. In 2016, she published Chile: Architectural Guide with Mauduit.

Architect. Lives in Nice. Cofounder of the A. P. Arts collective. Works on various projects while studying modern architecture. Published Chile: Architectural Guide in 2016 with Hours.

French architect based in Tokyo. Professor of architecture at Meiji University and ICS College of Arts and cofounder of Mikan, an architecture office based in Yokohama. Has participated in numerous national and international exhibitions including Archilab 2006: Nest in the City and Tokyo 2050/12 Visions for the Metropolis for the International Union of Architects 2011 Tokyo Conference. Works include Ie no kioku (The House’s Memory), Posuto ofisu: Wākusupēsu kaizō keikaku (Post Office: A Workspace Conversion Plan), Danchi saisei keikaku: Mikan-gumi no rinobēshon katarogu (Save the Danchi: Mass Estates, A Project of the Future), and Tokyo Dansō (Tokyo: Portraits and Fictions).

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