Although designed to harmonize comfortably with the other residences in this typical suburban landscape, the Minamigawa house is a departure from traditional Japanese home design. Unlike its neighbors each of which presents a bland façade to the street with a formally defined house and garden hidden behind it this home merges indoor and outdoor spaces into a unified whole.
The garden climbs up from street level, penetrating the built form and pulling the eye beyond the structure’s surface to a planted terrace overlooking the street. At the top of the incline, the primary living spaces within the open concrete and glass frame take advantage of the views to the garden and an adjacent park, while wood-clad boxes offer domestic warmth and privacy. Flowing back and forth between house and garden, the design blurs the distinction between what is “inside” and what is “outside.”
The third floor, with more enclosed rooms well above eye and street level, offers added privacy. Throughout, a palette of simple building materials enhances the unconventional design, while the balanced scale of all the elements contributes a quiet informality.