This Whimsical Home in Japan Encourages Play and Exploration

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Exposed wooden trusses and polycarbonate walls are just some of the features of this playful, Kobe residence.

In Kobe, Japan, looking out towards Mount Rokko, the playfully designed Hat House by local studio Fumiaso Architect & Associates features diagonal internal walls that capture sunlight entering from the south. Exposed timber trusses, arched thresholds, an imaginative interior alley and courtyard, greenery, and tansu staircases work together to create a dwelling that's cheerful and full of whimsy.

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Hat House by Fumiaso Architects & Associates resides in the port city of Kobe, Japan.

Hat House by Fumiaso Architects & Associates resides in the port city of Kobe, Japan.

The entrance area is designed to echo an outdoor alleyway.

The entrance area is designed to echo an outdoor alleyway.

The angle of the wall enables the home to capture the ever-shifting light entering from the southern side of the building.

The angle of the wall enables the home to capture the ever-shifting light entering from the southern side of the building.

The building houses a workshop with two studios on the ground level and a residence on the upper level. 

The building houses a workshop with two studios on the ground level and a residence on the upper level. 

Low walls were built along the entrance of the house to create an internal "alley" that separates the two studio spaces. 

Low walls were built along the entrance of the house to create an internal "alley" that separates the two studio spaces. 

The placement of the angled walls results in an interesting juxtaposition of interior spaces in the approximately 878-square-foot home, including triangular and parallelogram-shaped rooms.  

The placement of the angled walls results in an interesting juxtaposition of interior spaces in the approximately 878-square-foot home, including triangular and parallelogram-shaped rooms.  

On the second level is a large, open-plan living room, dining room, and kitchen.

On the second level is a large, open-plan living room, dining room, and kitchen.

The truss structure encloses the interior wall at 45 degrees.

The truss structure encloses the interior wall at 45 degrees.

The entrance "alley" veers off at a right angle to become an indoor "courtyard" lined with green plants.

The entrance "alley" veers off at a right angle to become an indoor "courtyard" lined with green plants.

A wooden truss structure supports the beam of the large roof and the exterior walls.

A wooden truss structure supports the beam of the large roof and the exterior walls.

An outdoor deck on the upper level looks down to street views.

An outdoor deck on the upper level looks down to street views.

The diagonal positioning of the interior walls enhances the sense of depth within the indoor spaces.   

The diagonal positioning of the interior walls enhances the sense of depth within the indoor spaces.   

Polycarbonate sheets separate the functional zones while still allowing light to pass through, so all areas of the home are well illuminated. 

Polycarbonate sheets separate the functional zones while still allowing light to pass through, so all areas of the home are well illuminated. 

A staircase leads up to the second level.

A staircase leads up to the second level.

A corner is used as an outdoor terrace.

A corner is used as an outdoor terrace.

Sectional plan

Sectional plan

Project Credits:

Architecture: Fumiaso Architects & Associates 

Builder: Oogaki Ringyou 

Structural engineering: S3 Associates Inc. 

Landscape design: Ietani Shokkei Kenkyusho 

Photographer: Shigeo Ogawa