A U-Shaped Sanctuary in Japan Wraps Around an Atrium

A U-Shaped Sanctuary in Japan Wraps Around an Atrium

By Jen Woo
In Kishiwada in Southern Osaka, this serene abode directs views toward rice fields and the woods beyond.

Immersed in nature, the 911-square-foot House in Mita by Takatsuki–based Horibe Associates looks out to a lush, wooded area and fields of rice, blocking it from the road and offering a sense of serenity and privacy. Its U shape and garden-facing rooms embody indoor/outdoor living, giving the owners a stunning backdrop a living experience that changes with the seasons. 

An indoor/outdoor layout allows for taking in the changing seasons. 

In spring, the reflection of the variety of trees appear in the water-filled rice fields; in summer, a cool breeze blows over rice plants, flowing into the living areas; and in fall, the rural landscape turns to gold in a gilded view that can be taken in from the living, dining, and kitchen areas. 

The center of the home is an open-air atrium with access from multiple rooms. 

The exterior of the home is the epitome of minimalism, though adds character with geometric windows and entryways of varying sizes, as well as the curving zig-zag of the roof. 

In juxtaposition to its natural setting and warm interiors, the exterior and roof are composed of corrugated-metal panels in alabaster hues. Within the U is an atrium with a single tree; the rooms wrapping around it each have individual access outside.

A floating sink and mirror add to the airy feel of the home. 

Warm wood floors carry over from inside to the atrium. 

Inside, the use of concrete is balanced by warm wood elements and textured, eggshell walls. A sweeping floor-to-ceiling glass sliding door opens up to the outdoors, flooding the space with natural light.

The living areas are set lower, so they are tucked away from sight from those in the fields. 

In the cross-section plan, the main living areas (including the kitchen, dining, and living room) are set lower than the rest of the house for added privacy—they are roughly 18 inches lower so those working in the fields are unable to see occupants inside.

A view of the courtyard from the living room. 

The courtyard was created to be a gathering space where all rooms meet.

The other rooms are all arranged to face the courtyard, creating a social, communal environment amongst family members in this tranquil home.

Project Credits:  

Architect: Horibe and Associates

Construction: Soken Corporation

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