A Garden Hill Reflects Light Into This Modern Tokyo Home
When a client asked Tokyo-based firm Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP to design a home that would embrace the changing seasons, Nakamura and project architect Kohei Omori found inspiration in Japan’s traditional art forms, starting with Japanese landscape design.
"Our aim was to create a house with the experience of strolling around a garden," the architect explains. The U-shaped home encloses a 2,420-square-foot courtyard with a large man-made hill—an element borrowed from traditional ‘tsukiyama’ gardens—that reflects light into the house.
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"An artificial hill was placed in the inner garden so that all rooms have light. Like Ginkakuji (the Silver Pavilion) in Kyoto, where a sand cone moon-viewing platform in a sea of silver sand distributes moonlight to the different buildings, the hill reflects the transition of light and flow of time to each of the rooms."
To maximize views of the inner garden and access to reflected light, the architects installed full-height operable glazing in each of the rooms oriented towards the courtyard. The grid-screen, which was inspired by the traditional bamboo lath structures, provides privacy, security, as well as a green facade where vines will grow as time passes.
Garden views are further emphasized by a spiral pathway around the courtyard that references traditional Japanese stroll gardens and michiyuki—a term for journey scenes used in Japanese Noh theater.
The architect continues: "When going out, you turn left again and again around the hill as the revolute centrifugal force gives you a supportive push. When coming home from the station, the path starts from the road on the north side and you turn right again and again around the hill as if withdrawing deeply into a spiral shell."
"The house thus empowers you as you go out, yet soothes you as you come home. Enticed by the coziness of this home, inhabitants share distinct behaviors and weave a tapestry of empathy that strengthens the bonds of family. The lifestyle in this home swirls around the garden with an artificial hill."
Builder/General Contractor: Satohide Corporation
Structural Engineer: Yamada Noriaki Structural Design Office Co., Ltd.
Landscape Design: SOLSO FARM
Interior Design: Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP
Cabinetry Design/Installation: Sakura Shop
Lath Facade: Asahi Building-Wall Co., Ltd.
Masonry: Izumi Stone Works