A Family’s Home in Kyoto Balances Light and Darkness With a Diagonal Wall

A Family’s Home in Kyoto Balances Light and Darkness With a Diagonal Wall

By Laura Mauk
The insertion of a two-level, canted partition in a 40-year-old home gives a young family in Japan a multitude of unique spaces.

In Kyoto, Japan, architect Tada Masaharu and Endo Shojiro Design performed a renovation of a vertical home that’s marked by a central diagonal wall. For the young family, a couple with an infant daughter, the wall’s position dictates daily routines: On one side are sunlit public areas where the family can gather or host meals; on the other are darker and cozier private spaces where they sleep and work.

On each level of the house, Masaharu used the distance between the floor and the diagonal wall to temper natural light. "These gaps connect the spaces, creating [a home] where brightness and darkness exude," he says. "[The clients] experience a rich space by moving up and down, like a spiral. It’s a house where you can enjoy a collection of many small spaces."

The 1,176-square-foot home, which is located along the approach to Shimogamo Shrine—one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan and a UNESCO World Heritage site—was also rearranged with consideration for the forest-like park in front, and a river that runs behind it. "The forest side is dark and quiet, making it a place where individuals can concentrate," says Masaharu, "and the river side is bright." 

The clients have multiple hobbies that include biking, cooking, fashion, and technology. The various small spaces Masaharu created within the home suit their lifestyle, and the activities they enjoy. "And with COVID-19, they’re working remotely," the architect says. "They’re able to work without disturbing each other."


Related Reading:

This Minimalist Japanese Home Pivots Around an Indoor Garden

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

Project Credits:

Architecture: Tada Masaharu, td-Atelier, and Endo Shojiro Design

Construction: Fujisaki Gumi Co, Ltd.

Structural Engineer: Yoshiki Mondo Structural Design

Landscape Design: Michikusa Co., Ltd.

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