An Airy A-Frame Home Connects a Community in Rural Japan

An Airy A-Frame Home Connects a Community in Rural Japan

By Kathryn M.
Designed by Takeru Shoji Architects, the Hara House opens up to the outside world.

"We aspired to create a buoyant and bustling hub," says architect Takayuki Shimada, speaking of the tent-shaped home he and his team at Takeru Shoji Architects built in 2019. His clients were a young couple who desired a versatile, semipublic home on their generational estate in Tsurugasone, a small agricultural village about four hours north of Tokyo. After witnessing the growing physical and emotional separation between rural families, the design team saw the project as an opportunity to restore a fading communal connection.

Takayuki Shimada of Takeru Shoji Architects designed this A-frame residence in the rural village of Tsurugasone, Japan. A tent-like white steel roof tops the home, which mixes private spaces with a semipublic, open-air living and dining area.

"The estate already contained an assemblage of buildings and farmland that depended on one another," explains Shimada. "Our design direction was to create a home that revitalized these on-site structures and had the potential to adapt to new functions as the need or mood changed."

The solution was an A-frame structure draped over a rectangular interior volume. A set of parallel glass doors in the central living/dining room allow air to flow through home and connect the occupants with neighbors passing along the adjacent street.

Two parallel pitches expose the central living/dining room to outside air via sliding glass doors. The low openings give the impression of a tent that’s been propped up to reveal what’s going on inside.

Shimada adds, "Instead of a conventional self-reliant building, we designed a space where workshops, meetings, and events can spill out onto the land, thus opening the home to the village." He describes the open-air sides as a deliberate measure to extend the building envelope with semipublic spaces.

An open space on one side of the structure serves as an entrance and an informal gathering spot. The architect sought to create a "space where passing neighbors, friends, and children can easily stop by to chit chat."

A large living/dining area stands at the heart of the home. The soaring pitched ceiling creates a tent-like atmosphere, while sliders open both sides to the outdoors.

The versatile space was designed for both private and public uses. A raised platform provides storage and seating along one side of the room.

"We started our design by conceptualizing the building as incomplete," says Shimada. "The home should invite people from the village to utilize it, thus becoming part of the community. By establishing this type of architecture, with its blank canvas, a space is born that establishes itself as an attraction of interest and activity."

The open-air sides provide an opportunity for connection between those inside the structure and those passing by it.

Covered, veranda-like spaces on both sides provide shady areas to sit and relax.

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The structure’s long-term use was also top of mind for Shimada when completing the design. "The challenge was to design a connection that ties together the future, surrounding buildings, the agricultural community, and the village as a whole," he says.

"Someday, the couple imagines moving into another family residence on the property and passing this home on to their eldest son to use with his family," notes the project description. "Or perhaps the second son will renovate the work shed and practice agriculture, leaving the leftover space to be used by interns from overseas who have come to study."

At one end of the first floor, a small bedroom and a bathroom create a private living area for the family. The loft area above houses a small workspace.

A look at the compact and cozy first-floor sleeping space—essentially the master bedroom. Minimalist shelving provides storage, while a large pane of glass brightens the space and the loft above.

Takeru Shoji Architects sees opportunities like the Hara House as a way to create a "new management system for a village." The project is part of an initiative by the firm to revitalize local villages that were once thriving, interconnected places.

The view from the opposite end, where an additional loft area is used as the children’s bedroom. Plywood ceilings complement the hardwood floors below.

At night, ambient lighting can illuminate the interior space.

Glowing like a lantern in the night, the Hara House is a welcoming space for residents and local community members.

Hara House lower-level floor plan.

Hara House upper-level floor plan.

Related Reading:

20 A-Frame Homes We Love

10 Ultra-Modern Homes in Japan

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Takayuki Shimada, Takeru Shoji Architects / @takeru_shoji_architects

Construction: Hirokatsu Yokoo of Yoshihara Gumi

Structural Engineering: Tetsuya Tanaka, Tetsuya Tanaka Structural Engineers

Photography: Isamu Murai

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