ISSUE 97  |  Autumn in Japan

Architect Visit: The Art of Flexible Living, Yokohama Edition

November 04, 2013 10:00 AM

BY Christine Chang Hanway

Share This:

Using sliding partitions in lieu of walls, traditional Japanese house design makes an art form out of flexible living. As the partitions move, different spaces emerge and recede according to the needs of the moment. With Korean Pojaki patchwork cloth and other unexpected materials, Tokyo architecture firm MDS reinterprets these core principles in a 1,000-square-foot Yokohama house designed for modern family living.

Photography by Toshiyuki Yano via Arch Daily

Above: Turned on an axis, the cedar-clad cube is supported by a concrete base. 

Above: Cantilevered concrete stair treads lead upstairs to the living spaces.

Above: A dramatic light well is created by the open stair treads.

Above: The kitchen is divided from the living area by moveable partitions made of Korean Pojaki patchwork cloth that were designed by the owner of the house. The cedar-clad walls used here and elsewhere stand firm. 

Above: A tall window brings daylight to the inner dining area, which is sectioned off by a standing screen of white metal bars. 

Above: Full height curtains have the appearance of a moveable partition.

Above: Alongside the stairs, a partition of white metal bars serves as a transparent wall. 

Above: At the top of the stairs, Korean Pojaki patchwork cloth, here used as curtains, creates the effect of stained glass. 

Above: At the end of a hall, the cloth partition slides on a recessed track.

Above: On an interior wall, waist-height glazing offers an unexpected transparency.

Above: White accordion partitions can close off a mezzanine loft area as required.

Above: When the accordion partitions are shut (at left), they appear monolithic and wall-like.

Above: A wall painted with blackboard paint transforms a narrow hall into an ongoing art project.

Above: The house stands out in its suburban setting; thanks to its floor to ceiling glazing, it looks as if it’s made of sliding partitions. 

Above: Floor plans of the second and third floors show the different spatial configurations offered by the placement of the partitions.

In lofts and other open settings, sliding doors and partitions come in handy. For more inspiration, see 10 Favorites: Full-Height Sliding Doors and Partitions. And if you’re intrigued by the Korean Pojaki patchwork cloth curtains, go to DIY: 10 Patchwork Curtains Made From Vintage Linens.