written by:
photos by:
January 17, 2009
Originally published in All Together Now

On a double suburban lot in Tokyo, the Office of Ryue Nishizawa built a neighborhood-scaled, flexible-format minimalist steel prefab compound for Yasuo Moriyama—a very private individual with a powerful social bent—and six rental tenants. Every room is its own building—even Moriyama's bath is a freestanding box. Here, tradition and innovation interweave to create a new kind of community.

prefab japan tiny small house home interior exterior facade moriyama
None of the ten units is purely communal, but detached Unit C, Yasuo Moriyama’s “living room,” functions the most publicly. It houses a DVD player, a plasma screen TV, and little else, but it has a tea-room ambience. Moriyama says, “This space gives you the freedom to do anything you like, and it makes you want to.” Here, Moriyama and his pomeranian Shinnosuke visit with Ippei Takahashi, project manager and fellow resident.
Photo by 
1 / 10
Miscellaneous footwear litters the entranceway of three-story Unit F.
Miscellaneous footwear litters the entranceway of three-story Unit F.
Photo by 
2 / 10
Nakamura (far right), Masako Nishizaki (the only resident not involved in design), and Ippei Takahashi enjoy a sushi lunch.
Nakamura (far right), Masako Nishizaki (the only resident not involved in design), and Ippei Takahashi enjoy a sushi lunch.
Photo by 
3 / 10
Johanna Meyer-Grohbruegge, the newest resident and one of the rotating international architects in Ryue Nishizawa’s office, works in the sanctuary of her room (Unit I).
Johanna Meyer-Grohbruegge, the newest resident and one of the rotating international architects in Ryue Nishizawa’s office, works in the sanctuary of her room (Unit I).
Photo by 
4 / 10
A stream of curious visitors necessitates plenty of takeout. The 2946-23 chair by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa for NextMaruni (waits patiently near a fresh delivery of soba noodles and curry.
A stream of curious visitors necessitates plenty of takeout. The 2946-23 chair by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa for NextMaruni (waits patiently near a fresh delivery of soba noodles and curry.
Photo by 
5 / 10
Stereo in a prefab Tokyo compound
The stereo in Unit A’s third-floor bedroom/study box is just a tease compared to the windowless basement “audio room,” where Moriyama spends private time in the company of 2,000 vinyl albums, mostly jazz. Here, a few albums are accompanied by Noguchi’s Akari Lamp 1N.
Photo by 
6 / 10
minimalist steel prefab house in tokyo
Each unit has its own outdoor space, but none are physically bounded, facilitating spontaneous interaction. Taeko Nakatsubo, an architect with the Office of Ryue Nishizawa, enjoys a quiet moment outside.
Photo by 
7 / 10
In Unit J's kitchen, the Bouroullec brother's Algue for Vitra echoes the greenery outside.
In Unit J's kitchen, the Bouroullec brother's Algue for Vitra echoes the greenery outside.
Photo by 
8 / 10
The evening bath is a ritual in Japan, and public baths are still around, but this is a new twist. Moriyama curtains the bath during use, but won’t cover any other windows, “because it feels good to couple the inner space with the outside world.”
The evening bath is a ritual in Japan, and public baths are still around, but this is a new twist. Moriyama curtains the bath during use, but won’t cover any other windows, “because it feels good to couple the inner space with the outside world.”
Photo by 
9 / 10
The compound at dusk.
The compound at dusk.
Photo by 
10 / 10
prefab japan tiny small house home interior exterior facade moriyama
None of the ten units is purely communal, but detached Unit C, Yasuo Moriyama’s “living room,” functions the most publicly. It houses a DVD player, a plasma screen TV, and little else, but it has a tea-room ambience. Moriyama says, “This space gives you the freedom to do anything you like, and it makes you want to.” Here, Moriyama and his pomeranian Shinnosuke visit with Ippei Takahashi, project manager and fellow resident.
Project 
Moriyama House

Check out the slideshow tab above to see images and accompanying text for this story.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016