ISSUE 62  |  Japonesque

Transparent Living, Japanese Style

March 04, 2013 10:30 AM

BY Sarah Lonsdale

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What lies between a house and a street? This was the question Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto addressed in the design of House N in Oita, southern Japan. The clients' mandate for the house was for something pure and simple. Fujimoto's solution? A white three-shelled box structure that blurs the boundaries between outdoors and indoors and connects to both the sky and the street. For more on the architect's work, visit Sou Fujimoto Architects.

Photography by Iwan Baan.

Above: The house as seen from the street. Inside the outer white shell are two more smaller shells. The entry to the left accommodates two cars. The wooden rails slides across as a barrier.

Above: The three shells of progressive sizes are nested inside one another. The 44 openings throughout the building are an integral part of the structure, with Fujimoto taking careful consideration of the views framed.

Above: A wooden deck and a minimal garden connect the outer shell to the middle one.

Above: The only sealed openings are in the glass encased middle shell shown here.

Above: The private inner shell features large cut-out openings that show the different layers connecting to the outside world. There are only three doors in total: two to the street outside, and one to the toilet.

Above L: A tatami area that doubles as guest accommodation. Above R: A narrow passage between two shells connects the living area to the kitchen and bathroom.

Above: Simple sleeping quarters.

Above: A small deck is reached through a sliding glass door.

Above: A sliding window in the middle shell for cross ventilation.

Above: Fujimoto took into consideration the movement of the sun and incorporated daylight and shade into his design. The outer shell has seven openings in the roof, allowing the sky to be glimpsed from the interior.

Above: House N sits in a residential suburb. It has a large footprint, but the transparent shells, with their myriad openings, give it a fluid form that connects with the surrounding neighborhood. Fujimoto likens it to living among the clouds, where the boundaries are blurred.

Above: A section of the house plan.

House N is one of my favorite Japanese structures to date, but here are two more worth checking out: Takeshi Hosaka and Akasaka Shinichiro Atelier.

See our City Guide for more on Japan.