Tokyo's House in Ouji blurs the line between home and narrow city streets
The narrow dead-end streets that stop and start through the city blocks of Tokyo are a distinctive, if not entirely useful, part of the city landscape. Rather than closing itself off to these pint-sized cul-de-sacs, Pluszero's recently completed House in Ouji opens itself right up. Half of the home resembles an extension of the road while serving as an owner's studio and community workshop, forging a subtle connection between the private and public spaces.
Designed for a couple, one a game creator and one a writer, the House in Ouji was conceived to minimize the boundaries between the owners' private and professional lives. This meant incorporating a multipurpose space into the dwelling that can be used to create, as well as entertain, host events and conduct workshops for the community.
The front end of the home faces the dead-end street, which already acted as a small community space for the residents of the adjacent buildings. This inspired Pluszero architect Shin Sato to "build a new relationship with the surroundings by taking the atmosphere of this private road into the house."
He began by laying out two volumes, both of them long, narrow and sat alongside one another. One is a static space that houses all the amenities needed for living, such as the kitchen and bathroom and is dubbed "Uchi," a Japanese word for interior. The open space alongside is designed as an intermediate space between the private road and Uchi, and is called Uchinawa.
Sato ensured the Uchinawa was well lit with huge windows at either end, which draw in ample natural light and also create a sense of continuity, connecting a north side opening with a neighbor's garden to the south. A tall window midway through the space stretches from the floor to the double-story ceiling and reveals the pipelines, water heaters and meters that service the surrounding homes, a deliberate reminder of the area's density.
Rather than an abrupt connection between city and home, Sato set out to create a "gradually shifting relationship" that layers the public road, the multipurpose Uchinawa and the more private living areas. To that end, he placed a half-turn stair with a wide landing in the Uchinawa to interlace the two spaces, and carefully narrowed down the light as inhabitant's move through the Uchi space.
To see more of the House in Ouji, have a poke around our gallery.