Text description via v2com and the architects*
The planned site is located in the northernmost part of Minoh City, Osaka Prefecture, and the surrounding development area was blessed by a natural environment. However, many of the houses built in the surrounding area were not much different from those built in the city center. In this environment, the client couple wanted a simple house that would allow them to absorb the richness of nature in their daily life, unlike living in a house built in the city.
The south side of the site faces the road, and the east and west sides are flanked by residential lots. On the north side, the site faces the management road of Satoyama Farm, which was established as a buffer zone for the landslide disaster warning area. The background features the magnificent greenery of Mount Aogai, the northernmost mountain in Minoh City. In addressing this border between the ‘city’ and ‘nature’, a quiet residence with a vague boundary between interior and exterior, in harmony with the surrounding natural environment, was required.
This single architectural gesture establishes the building’s style based on an honest use of materials and a balance between opacity and transparency. Inside the single-storey home, which is divided by slender wooden beams, the kitchen, bath and other functions are contained by a number of nested rectilinear volumes, either white-washed or clad in plywood. Modern and solid, the structures provide a wonderful contrast against the classic, airy envelope. While seemingly light and ethereal, the house is highly earthquake-resistant, thanks to the traditional wooden construction method employed in its making. A new expression in a remarkable setting, the project shows that greatness can be achieved with modest means.
“We have been searching for the future of environmental architecture, and our goal was to reconstruct the forgotten relationship between local character and the surrounding natural environment. The result is a new type of building that, in addition to its high residential performance, feels more like a part of nature than a landscape” says architect Yasuyuki Kitamura.
In recent years, the demand for housing performance has steadily increased. This building, with its well-balanced shape and large openings, was designed to withstand earthquakes in Japan, a country renowned for such occurences. The house is designed to earthquake resistance grade 3 standards, and with excellent insulation performance standards, resulting in a calm and relaxing atmosphere.
“Questioning the nature of modern housing, I had set the building at the suburban boundary between ‘city’ and ‘nature’.” adds Kitamura, “The specific location allows the inhabitants to form a close relationship with the environment. the northside of the site faces a community vegetable garden, while the blue shell mountain is visible in the background. The south side faces a road, while to the east and west, the site opens to the neighbouring dwelling units. The deep eaves of the light roof extend the interior, while the nested nooks and crannies create an ambiguous space. in addition, a pair of openings visually connect the outside with the center of the building, and a large top light allows the green of the trees and the blue sky to penetrate through. the curtains on the outside adjust the sunlight and line of sight, and the two pillars like standing trees give a sense of security to the generous space. the result is a light-hearted home that feels as if it is part of nature, rather than a landscape.”
House in Minohshinmachi won the prestigious AZ Award, and has been selected as the 2021 Architizer A+ Awards Finalist for Architecture + Living Small/Low Cost Design.