House in Kurakuen I

Nishinomiya, Hyogo
Hiroyuki Hirai

The site is quite special. It is on the southern side of a slope facing a valley. The main road is 3 m higher than the highest part of the slope. From the main road there is a panoramic view of the green valley below. Because of these unique conditions, I tried to limit the volume of the house as much as possible in order to blend the facade into the scenery.
The highest level of the house is on the same level as the main road is the most public space. From there, one descends a stairway to the semi-public area, that is, the living and dining room, and below that are the private areas, that is, the bedrooms. Each level of the house is a distinctive space. All the rooms face and are connected to exterior terraces and gardens, and this creates a feeling of being afloat in the natural environment of the house. There is a hierarchical sequence of spaces, from the living and dining room and the half-enclosed space of the terrace to the open valley below. One is made immediately aware of the changing seasons and the movement of the sun. The house provides a rare opportunity for a city-dweller to immerse himself in nature.