Designed for ventilation during peak summer temperatures, this three-story modern home outside of Tokyo uses traditional Japanese interior design strategies.
Yanagisaki, a suburb about 20 miles outside Tokyo, can be unbearably hot and humid during the summer months—a result of the "urban heat island effect," where concrete and asphalt store heat during the day and radiates it through the night. This climate was one of the biggest design challenges for co-designstudio’s Yanagisaki House, especially when the clients desired a low-energy, mostly passively cooled home. The 1,235-square-foot abode hosts a family of four—husband, wife, grandmother, and kindergarten-age son—with smart programming and an open-floor plan. Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass windows on the second floor and operable skylights on the third maximize ventilation to keep the house comfortable.
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The house is surrounded by buildings on all sides except its south facade, which faces the street. An expansive operable window is key for effective ventilation during hot summer months. Additionally, a cantilevered balcony shelters a carport, bike storage, and even a playful swing.
The 13-foot-wide sliding window provides abundant natural light year-round. The staircase was placed at the building's center to maximize openness and make space for the carport below. The blackboard is for the couple's young son, Takuma, to play with and practice writing.
The sliding wood and glass panel alludes to traditional Japanese shoji screens—sliding partitions constructed of wood and translucent paper. For the house’s wooden construction, co-design studio used Japanese cedar, sugi, and Japanese cypress, hinoki, both local to the larger Saitama prefecture.
The tatami mats are a favorite play space for Takuma .
The homeowners have a taste for handmade items, including this dining room table and chairs, which they had custom made by a local woodworker. The facuet is from Kakudai and the pendant light is from iitaka kousaku.
The bathroom's sauna-like interior includes a deep Toto bathtub—characteristic of traditional Japanese baths. The wooden hiba paneling, chosen because it is more water resistant than hinoki, is specific to the Northern Aomori region of Japan.
The second floor features this clever storage design—a “hidden space,” as co-design studio refers to it.
In addition to pull-out cabinets, the second-floor sleeping space can be reconfigured with movable partitions and wardrobes. Here, they divide the space into a two-bedroom arrangement.
The same space, reconfigured to make two bedrooms into one.
Takuma strikes a pose from the loft lookout as seen from the second floor. The loft is used for storage as well as a place for some peace and quiet.