House in Nakagyo

Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Hiroyuki Hirai

House in Nakagyo stands in the middle of a typical Kyoto district with mixed-use commercial and residential buildings to the south. The narrow site is oriented north-south and fronts streets on the south and west sides. It is designed for a dealer of antiques and the first floor provides a place to receive visitors, while the second and third floors provide residential quarters. The house is enclosed two-story-high concrete box whose 4.2-meter-wide facade takes up almost the entire width of the site; the northernmost 3.5 meters of the box’s 13.4 meter length is reserved for courtyard. The third level is steel-frame construction.
The first-level guest area is accessed from the southwest via a traditional doma or earthen floor area. The residential portion is accessed separately via exterior stairs at the courtyard that lead to the second-level bedrooms and third-level dining room. Third level spaces and their sequence toward the courtyard – open at the top on the west side – is a closed and quiet space at ground level while being open and connected to the terrace at the upper-most level. While only five meters separate the lower and upper portions of the courtyard, the upper level presents the city as if it were a landscape, creating a distance from the city rather than allowing one to feel a part of it.