House in Higashi-osaka

Higashi-Osaka, Osaka
Hiroyuki Hirai

This house is not a heroic expression of contemporary technology and industrial products. Instead, it has been constructed by cladding a structural steel frame with molded cement panels and installing steel window frames. The theme that I explored in the design was the potential of mainstream industrial vernacular. The house, therefore, is the complete antithesis of a monolithic, one-of-a-kind building made of reinforced concrete. It is a type of structure that anyone can build anywhere in the world. Taking the same approach as I took in the House in Nipponbashi, I used commonly available methods to arrive at a solution that is unique to this site, situation, and environment.
The building stands in a suburb of Osaka, in a monotonous residential district sliced by private railway lines. The site, located close to a bustling shopping street that leads to a railway station, is surrounded by condominiums and has only two elevations, one facing another house and the other facing the street. These are conditions typical of a Japanese metropolitan suburb.
The main structure has a frontage of two 3.6 m bays and a depth of three 3.4 m bays. A staircase and terrace occupy an area one bay square on the side facing the street. Behind the main structure, another area one-bay square is given over to a court with a stairway. This court is open on the south side at the top, and that is the only opening on the south side in the entire building. The court gives access to the third-floor living/dining room, which has a 4.0 m high ceiling. Part of the roof is translucent, and this serves to orchestrate the transition from the court to the interior space.
The main floor is only a few m above ground, yet this slight difference in elevation produces a character of space that is at once removed from the city and open to it.