A parcel located in a dense residential neighborhood near Shimizu Pond Park in Meguro-ku, Tokyo, was divided into three lots. One 4.3-by-10.8 meter lot (46.5 m2) has afforded a compact home with extended floor space of 71 m2 for a married couple and their child. Three levels consumed 17m2 for the stairs, however, so the actual, usable space was 54 m2. For such a compact home, a plan with hierarchy established by floor space, such as a large living room and a small bath—as done ordinarily for homes, would not work. The living room would not be large, and the bath would be painfully small. Such a small area would simply magnify the total compactness.
For this home, therefore, the stairs occupy the center of the plan, while the following compartments have nearly the same floor space: living room, kitchen & dining, bath, child’s bedroom, and master bedroom. No large room to gather the family together exists in the residence. The so-called living room is a compartment for watching TV or working on the PC, and hardly qualifies in size under the conventional description. If the definition of a living room is space for the three family members to gather, then the bath with sufficient room for three also qualifies as a living room. In fact, most of the compartments are interchangeable. The living room and child’s bedroom can be swapped; the bath and master bedroom can be swapped, too. In that sense, this home is built with only living-room compartments.
The rooms are continually connected in a way to provide expansiveness to the individual compartments. On the third level, sliding doors create discrete space for the master and child’s bedrooms when closed. But the shared closet space in the hallway offers overlapping home-life space that attempts to integrate the sleeping quarters. On the second level, the living room shelving and kitchen counter are made continuous along the hallway’s built-in cabinets and refrigerator space. The two rooms stay independent, yet offer a perspective of an integrated, large space wrapped around the staircase. The lavatory and entrance are functionally and visually continuous on the first level, by virtue of the built-in closets along the hallway. When taking off outdoor shoes to enter the home, the relatively large entrance space provides depth and perceptually greater space than imagined from the outside. The horizontally connecting hallways at each level also constitute the staircase landings—which is an attempt at vertical continuity.
The perennial theme in the design work of a number of residential projects, relates to the sense of distance within residential space. This home also achieves integrated, expansive space with continuity between independent rooms, while allowing physical distance between residents.Location: Meguro-ku, Tokyo, Japan Architect: Key Operation Inc. Architects