Minutes from the capital city’s urban bustle, an architect blends steel, wood, and concrete into a harmonious retreat for a family of five.
It’s just a ten-minute train ride from the famously crowded Shibuya Crossing, but this Tokyo home feels like it's miles away from the din of city life.
Designed by architects Keiji Ashizawa and Mariko Irie of Keiji Ashizawa Design, this modernist box in the residential Yoga neighborhood is a true oasis in urban Japan: A retreat from the world for a family of five. "They simply wanted a comfortable, beautiful everyday life," says Ashizawa. And armed with natural materials and thoughtful minimalist finishes, the architects have created just that.
The ground floor, built from concrete, provides a weighty base for the lighter steel and wooden volumes stacked on top. There’s truly a flow in this three-story, 4,187-square-foot structure, as you move from the airy lower levels into the quiet, intimate bedroom spaces upstairs. The entryway is dark and intimate—"like a cave," says Ashizawa. You’re drawn in by the light of the patio, as well as the sunshine pouring in from the second floor.
"I always try to make a kind of rhythm for the space," explains Ashizawa. "Where to set the stairs, where to set the rooms...it should just feel like natural movement."
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Each level is connected by a shared view of a lush, green inner courtyard: A nod to nature perfectly suited to an active, wellness-focused family. "They love sports, hiking, and skiing, and wanted to have a quiet, natural feeling in the house," says Ashizawa. The monochromatic color palette is accented with raw concrete, quietly textured stone, and warm wood throughout.
A lattice made of ipe wood lines the patios and entryways, providing privacy without blocking the natural light or airflow. The sleek steel staircase is accessorized with a solid wooden handrail and oak plank steps. "Every day, they’ll touch the wood, which feels solid and nice," says Ashizawa. Over time, that railing will patina, becoming softer and more beautiful with age.
But the biggest nod to nature in the construction is a literal piece of it—the Nanaminoki tree planted in the centre courtyard, that little jewel box at the heart of the house. "They can just spend years and years watching it grow," says Ashizawa.