K House is a single-story, timber-frame house in a historic seaside city near Tokyo. The client, whose family had lived on the site for several generations, wanted a spacious home without all the rooms and corridors that were once needed to accommodate the extended family.
Japanese houses, especially in cities, are often closed and introverted because most people value privacy and silence. Since K House is in a dense neighborhood and faces a busy railway, the idea was to satisfy these conditions while also doing the opposite: opening up the interiors to the outside by framing pockets of nature, such as the sky over the railway, the semi-enclosed garden, and the patches of greenery along low windows and deep eaves.
The roof is clad in steel and the walls are finished in burnt wood. The eaves, which cantilever up to 900mm, are only 30mm thick owing to the strength and stiffness of Russian Birch plywood. The contrasting appearance of the delicate roof planes over dark walls – reflective metal over shaded black – disguises the scale and organization of the building.
The trusses in the skylights are the only visible structural elements. Spanning up to 5.4m, they eliminate columns and create an open plan. Since the remaining structure is hidden behind walls and ceilings, the interiors feel light and airy.
From theinside, the skylights capture an abundance of light while ensuring privacy. The disproportionately large window in the living room has a striking presence within the otherwise modest interiors.
The roof planes – each one tilted at a different angle – help stiffen the structure and give character to different spaces in the open plan. Aesthetically, the mix of oblique and overlapping surfaces reverberates with the clashing rooflines of the neighborhood.