Tokyo-based Archipatch designed the Tsumugu house as a case study for local homebuilder Shichiro Construction, which wanted to make use of timber sourced from the island of Kyushu where the company is headquartered.
The one-story building was built to accommodate a family of four and aims to demonstrate how wooden construction can be used to create comfortable and versatile living spaces.
Archipatch said, “The house is designed to connect with nature, and to achieve a comfortable lifestyle in harmony with the ever-changing natural environment.”
In response to changing local customs in Japan in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the building provides a variety of flexible spaces that allow occupants to work and socialize at home.
The house consists of three interconnected volumes, characterized both externally and internally with different ceiling heights.
The building is constructed with a wooden frame that is left exposed internally. Wood is also widely used for wall and ceiling cladding, with other natural materials chosen to compliment the wood.
“The exterior and interior are warm and inviting, using cedar, cypress and natural stone grown in the region to give a sense of texture that only natural materials can provide,” Archipach added.
The main entrance is located in the central building and gives access to a lower volume on the left containing a small shoe room and three bedrooms.
A corridor leads past two single bedrooms to a suite at the far end with its own wardrobe and study.
Directly in front of the entrance in the center of the house is a Japanese-style room with a tatami floor that can be used as a sitting room, a simple guest room, or a space to do chores.
Traditional shoji screens made of wood and paper can be closed to separate the Japanese room from the rest of the house, or opened to provide different connections with the entrance and living spaces.
The main open plan living areas are located to the right of the entrance in the tallest part of the house. At one end of the space is a sunken lounge, lined with large windows overlooking the garden.
Glass partitions can be opened to connect the living space to the balcony. This also allows cool air passing over the adjacent pond to ventilate the interior.
Large overhanging cornices protect the elevations from direct sunlight, while operable hard-paned windows allow hot air to escape.
Adjacent to the lounge is a dining and kitchen space with a curved island. The bathroom behind the kitchen has a door in its back wall that can be opened to allow ventilation through the house.
The house is designed to reduce energy consumption, with high levels of thermal insulation, geothermal heating system and natural ventilation contributing to its sustainable performance.
Other homes in Japan include a mud house, a restaurant hidden below ground level, and a small family home with a grand staircase.
Photography by Yusuke Harrigan.