A Family in Japan Makes the Most of a Tight Space on an Even Tighter Budget

For a couple and their young daughter, In Studio designs a serene hillside home with clever interiors.

After purchasing a plot of hilly land in a suburb near Yokohama, Japan, a couple and their young daughter were left with a strict budget to create their family’s new home. They approached architecture firm In Studio with the challenge of designing a low-cost residence that embraced the surrounds.

Inspired by the couple’s brief, In Studio cofounders Izumi Kozasa and Naoko Okumura designed a home "that is completely wrapped in the hillside and looks up to the sky," they say.

The site is part of a residential development that was neatly laid out along the undulating topography, which subjected all the homes there to stringent building regulations. The hilly terrain and accompanying restrictions have resulted in a neighborhood covered with small, detached houses that are characteristic of homes found in mountainous regions throughout Japan.

To avoid an existing retaining wall, the architects angled the facade, which also created a unique exterior. This asymmetrical design gesture is balanced by the second floor terrace, where the family can observe the surrounding terrain.

The ground floor slab is raised and suspended from wooden posts, lifting the home closer to the sky and allowing for taller ceilings. Natural light permeates into the compact yet airy design through a skylight and full-height windows.

A singular, open plan room on the first floor serves as the family’s main living space, while the second floor is partitioned into bedrooms. A landing between the two floors functions as a study, while also serving as an intermediary between the two levels differing scales.

To maximize the couple’s budget, the architects used wood for the home’s throughout the home. To imbue the interiors with a sense of calm, they used matching wood for the floor, ceiling, and built-in furniture pieces. Strips of timber define the living room’s ceiling and extend outside to detail the underside of the terrace.

Related Reading:

A Compact, Steel-Clad Home Slots Into a Narrow Lot in Osaka, Japan

A Pint-Sized Japanese Tiny Home Is Shaped Like a Milk Carton

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: In Studio

Builder/ General Contractor: Yukari  Construction

Photography: Makoto Yoshida

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