House in Akashi

This house is located in a quiet residential area where a hill land ranging along the castle ruins of Akashi is cut out, near the centre of Akashi city in Hyogo prefecture Japan.

In spite of the limited site area, the house consists of single story with three courtyards harmonising with wind, the sunlight, and lifestyle so the house is encircled by woods.

The structure is divided into 3 areas, from the entrance to the back of the house, and each area has a small courtyard where private vegetable garden can be enjoyed. The first of the courtyards has a traditional dirt floor, a Japanese-style room for family which they can use freely, and “a yard with kitchen garden”, in the middle, semi-public living dining space, and “a yard for viewing”, to the back, room for private, and for laundry, “dry area”.

At “a yard with kitchen garden”, to enjoy a harvest, a tree of grapes is planted. For the client who loves fishing, a space where he can check fishing rod bending, is made. 

At “a yard for viewing”, it is designed to enjoy the extraordinary scenery, not only at noon, but at night, planting of the yard will be come up by turning off the inside lights and using the outside lights.

At “dry area”, the placement of windows is well considered, so as to enjoy the scenery of the downward planting, and the change of sky, when family members get together at the table, even though some of the parts obstructs the view from living dining room. In a dirt floor of the entrance, a woodstove is designed.

This is because the client wish the children would feel the sound of wood burning in winter, and the design was created by imagining the family gathering that they would cook roast sweet potatoes by encircling the woodstove and enjoy the season.

As for natural daylighting, the design image is not just taking the direct sunlight, but taking the north side light, and the reflection of the light at the exterior wall, afternoon sun which quietly streams all the back to the rooms in winter, morning light which comes from unexpected places, waves of sunshine through the trees. This is like the living dining room which is encircled with 3 courtyards, is wrapped by soft and gentle light.

About surroundings, the house is closed, as for taking privacy into consideration, but the plan was made to create a warm living felt impression, by a rich greenery exterior walls, and planting, that would attract passerby on the street, or slight light which comes down from slits set for ventilation.

Regarding materials, one of the special features is that the building firm proudly chose various kinds of woods, for floor, exterior wall, or even for furring strips, joists, and rafter, which don’t usually play the main roles. This was only possible as the building firm well know how to use woods such as cedar, Japanese cypress, spruce, and etc.

Each collaboration for furniture, planting, lighting equipment and interior design was carefully created, arranging the balance of the whole house design.

Through 3 courtyards, touching the plants and the soil, feeling the comfort of wind, enjoying the design of sky, the sunlight which changes its impression along with time and the season can be felt, even staying inside the house.

By taking nature and plants into living life, Arbol architects wanted to bring new little discoveries into daily life, and they hoped that this house would nurture sensibility in the residents’ hearts.

Photography by Yasunori Shimomura 

Project credits:

Architecture & design by Arbol

Additional design detail by Hasuike

Construction by Sasahara Corporation

Garden design by Oginotoshiya Landscape

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