The site is there in a residential area in Tokyo, dense with low-rise buildings, located a little bit west to the center of the Kanto plain. The climate there is about to change from warm humid climate to rainforest climate in near future.

building has no other openings except entrance on both front facades

I’m not making a “house” this time. It should be a lasting “terrain” that induces “habitation”. My goal is to shape the terrain up to a freshly designed “residence” with no preestablished harmony sensed.


If I want a landscape with high habitability, the architecture should go beyond some abstract morphology. After all, a terrain is created as a consequence of long time conversation held between physical substances such as rocks and soils and unique climate of the area. Finding a best balance between materials and climate and incarnate that in the form of architecture… This is a challenge to take elements that modern architecture has long been ignored – climate, materials and many problems posed by aging – into design factor once again and shift them to architectural blessings.

layered concrete facade

The project started with questing the best structure and materials to realize “a terrain that lasts forever”.

inner garden at night

One existing way to match the structure and finished shape is to use bare reinforced concrete as walls. But it’s of questionable value when it comes to durability. Rain washes alkali away from wall surface and makes it extremely short-lived. Shuttering of coated plywood board makes a smooth surface that looks great on the day of completion, however, weather-beaten, it will look sad and old within a few years. So I invented new construction system. Bare reinforced concrete wall with creasing (h=18mm) every 500 mm apart would keep alkali in and stain off. Larch plywood is used as mold instead of coated plywood in order to transfer wood grain to the surface of the wall to make it textured. That way, aged deterioration turns into something of aesthetic value, just like wrinkles of well-used jeans.

view towards the kitchen

view from the kitchen to the dining/living area

The block of reinforced concrete thus made is placed on the site at an angle to separate exterior into two spaces: to the north, the “front garden” on the road, used as parking. To the south, the “private garden” surrounded by main building and neighboring houses where wind is gentle and sun shines warmly. The private garden offers privacy and security and makes it possible for the architecture to have large window that views sunny garden and “vault of heaven”. The architecture geometry is not conventional rectangular. Its unique shape brings about “darkness” to the corners everywhere, provides it with appearance of depth and liberates the air of the rooms.

view onto the dining/living area and private garden

Residents enjoy a life under boundless sky indoors. On sunny days, unevenness of the exterior walls cast strong shadows. On cloudy days, the architecture sucks in humidity and turns into a dark crag. And on rainy days, it wears lace of raindrop. It transforms itself according to the weather.

study room and terrace on the right

Here, a modern architecture that lives in harmony with climate is born.

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26 - site plan

site plan

27 - floor plans

floor plans

28 - section


29 - elevations


30 - geometry axo

geometry axo

31 - mold axo

mold axo

location: Tokyo Metropolis, Japan
function: residence
project team: Masahiro Harada + Mao Harada
site area: 108.30 m²
built area: 53.10 m²
total floor area: 79.50 m²
structural system: reinforced concrete (2F)
design period: January 2007 – July 2007
construction period: August 2007 – July 2008
photographs: Ryota Atarashi _ courtesy of MOUNT FUJI ARCHITECTS STUDIO


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