A Green House in Japan Sets the Stage for Family Time

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By Brandi Andres / Published by Dwell
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This single-family home in Himeji, Japan was built with three daughters, two dogs, and lush, green exteriors in mind.

Taking the humid, subtropical climate of Japan’s Kansai region into account, Osamu Morishita Architect & Associates built a single-family home that optimizes bioclimactic and passive resources, integrating lush outdoor areas with the home’s interior spaces. Green design elements, such as sliding glass wall panels and a non-mechanical cooling system, allow natural lighting and air to flow effortlessly throughout the home.

The residents requested in the project brief that the home revolve around family spaces. To that end, the outdoor area, with its green courtyards, is meant to recall a campground experience.

With three daughters, the homeowners wanted their residence to revolve around family time, so a stage was built at the center of the living area where all three girls can play violin together.

Outside the three daughters' separate bedrooms, natural light cascades through a ceiling of skylights. Aluminum louvers diffuse indirect sunlight to create a soothing glow in the afternoons and a refreshing wake-up call each morning.

The girls' bedrooms are partitioned by sliding screen panels, which can be opened for access or shut for for privacy. Each room enjoys a stunning wall-to-wall exterior view.

The common space stretches nearly the length of the home, from the edge of the master bedroom to the wall of a guest bedroom. A “family stage” sits at the center of the home between the kitchen and bedrooms. There, the children entertain their parents and guests with a violin ensemble during the holidays.

Stretching the length of the family space are more skylights, which lessen the residents' reliance on electric lighting throughout the day. In the living and dining room areas, walls of sliding glass panels open to two courtyards.

In this family-friendly household, even the dogs have been given a space of their own. Enclosed courtyards offer the family and their two dogs outdoor living areas that feel like extensions of the interior spaces.

The architect created a non-mechanical cooling system leading to the master bedroom. By opening low-level wooden louvers, doors, and overhead windows, air is allowed to pass through the home via the hallway. Shutting the doors, louvers, or windows changes the function of airflow.