When designing a small home for a family, it's only possible to downsize so much. One might fairly guess that a house with a total width of 3 meters (10 ft) would be pushing things too far, but Imai House, by architectural firm Katsutoshi Sasaki and Associates, offers a good argument to the contrary. The home is also an example of how apparently too-small inner-city plots can be put to good use.

Imai House is located in the city of Okazaki, Japan, and was completed in 2013. The plot measures just 3 x 21 m (10 x 68 ft), of which the two-story house takes up the entire width, and most of its length. To put that into perspective, the width of the house is roughly equivalent to the length of an average American family car.

The exterior of the home is very simple and when viewed from the front looks rather like the Monolith depicted in Arthur C. Clarke's Space Odyssey series – albeit in white.

Some sacrifices were obviously required to make Imai House work, so Katsutoshi Sasaki and Associates designed a spartan interior layout that makes the most of the 69 sq m (742 sq ft) of floor space that's on offer. The house features a small bedroom and a really, really small children's bedroom in the loft that's only 1.3 m (4.2 ft) high, but this allows for a comparatively large lounge, kitchen and dining area.

Imai House also features a water closet and separate bathroom, and since there wasn't room on the plot for a typical garden, the firm designed a small indoor gardening space and rooftop terrace. Access to the house is gained by a sliding door and steps.

In time, the biggest drawback to daily life in this surprisingly appealing small home will perhaps prove to be the relative lack of windows, which isn't helped by the fact that those that are installed tend to be either small or placed high up. Well, that and the fact that as the child grows, he will be unable to stand up straight in his own bedroom. Imai house isn't suitable for everyone then, but is certainly a compelling home well-suited to a country that suffers a lack of building space.

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