House in Higashinada

Kobe, Hyogo
Hiroyuki Hirai

The clients, a mother and her daughter, wanted living accommodations that would allow each one to enjoy a measure of independence while still having a sense of togetherness. The site conditions were severe: 70 sqm of land with a 4.2 m frontage. Across the road on the north side, however, was a park, a precious pocket of greenery in the heavily built-up area. The task I set for myself in developing the design was to create a relationship with this park.
The building is a concrete box, 3.3 m wide and 16 m deep, occupying the entire site. The southwest corner, representing a quarter of the plan, is given over to a courtyard. The remaining structure has three levels and a skip-floor system. I created a three-dimensional spatial composition, using the voids of the staircase and the courtyard to provide vertical connections. As a result, the building is, in character, one large room, where the residents can sense each other’s presence yet not see each other. Lowering the heights of the first and second levels, I raised the ceiling of the third-floor dining room, where the residents gather, as high as possible, to 3.9 m. To the south, this space with its lofty ceiling faces the terrace and court, which are connected by a staircase with low risers. The north side of this space is completely glazed so that the occupants can look down at the park. Being on the third floor, with its view of the park and the air freely passing from south to north, is almost like being outdoors.
The residents are now able to maintain con-tact with nature in the heart of the city. It all began when I asked myself if some way could not be found to create a connection between the third floor and the greenery of the park.