Working with only 1,000 square feet of living space on three floors in Itami, Japan, Yo Shimada of Tato Architects works the classic Japanese Smart and Skinny with his own set of tools, two well-positioned staircases and built-ins that behave like furniture.
Two separate staircases in one small 11-foot-wide house may seem illogical and space-hogging until you see the careful choreography Shimada executes as the placement of each staircase in the middle of the rooms creates functional and open spaces on both sides, allowing architectural elements (stairs, laundry space, closets and handrails) to seemingly dance by under the guise of furniture.
Above: An open metal stair between the second and third floor means the second floor can feel like one open loft space.
Above: The stair from the first floor to the second separates the kitchen from the dining room.
Above: The dining room table floats over the stair opening and becomes a work surface in the kitchen.
Above: The kitchen has the efficiency of a galley kitchen without feeling closed in.
Above: The structural handrail supports the dining room table.
Above: The view from the kitchen to the living area shows a narrow storage cupboard.
Above: A coffee table and a set of drawers that appear to be pulled out from a dresser act as treads.
Above: The emphasis in the small space is on openness.
Above: The metal stair splits the floor plan into neatly allocated zones on either side.
Above: The deck is open to the sky while reading as an seamless extension of the third floor.
Above: The open storage of the kitchen becomes the glazed wall of a stairwell.
Above: By using the dining table as a bridge, the stair opening is integrated into the space.
Above: The stair descends into a closet full of drawers for storage.
Above: The closet/stair does not reach the ceiling allowing light from above to come down.
Above: The closet/house is wrapped in corrugated metal.
Above: A 3-D model of the house and its level changes.
Intrigued by living in an tall and narrow house? See 10 Favorites: Smart and Skinny Houses in Japan for more.