The clients for the Y-house in Saitama had three primary concerns for the design of their new home. First, they wished to have privacy without sacrificing a strong connection to the outdoors. Second, they wanted to maintain solar access in all of the rooms of the house, and third, to use outdoor space to enhance the feeling of openness and volume within an otherwise modest dwelling. The site for the house is located in a northern suburb of metropolitan Tokyo that is undergoing almost continuous development. It is bound on three sides by neighboring two story houses punctuated by random windows and balconies that eliminate any chance for privacy, and by a street located along the southern edge.
The house is strategically designed for passive solar control, employing the screen wall to shade the garden and adjacent bedrooms, and by incorportating a steel brise soleil to cool south facing glazing. Operable skylights allow for the natural ventilation of summer heat, while the low winter sun is brought into the house for passive heating. Other sustainable features include insulated metal panels, a reflective white roof, and instantaneous water heater.
From The Architects;
“The forms and organizations of the urban single-family house (along with a variety of other building types) have been driven toward extreme versions of efficiency by an ever-increasing metropolitan density. In a city like Tokyo, increasing land values, proximity to public transportation and the recognized value of maintaining a maximum amount of undeveloped open space outside of the city limits have produced models of‘existence minimum’ that eclipse any western precedents; we marvel at the phenomenon of the‘Tokyo dwelling’, where the most is made with the least. Objects are both miniaturized and multi-functional, and even the most modest condition of outdoor space is captured as a commodity of light, air and view. At its best the result is creative solutions driven by extreme constraint, at its worst the production of almost inhumane living conditions.”
About the architects:
Architects Eric A. Kahn and Russell N. Thomsen foundedIDEA Office (formerly COA, 1986-2009) in Los Angeles in 2009. The office works on design at all scales, ranging from graphic design to installations and industrial design, to architecture and urban planning. Our philosophy stems from a belief that design excellence improves the quality of life and reveals an awareness of the world as a contemporary and vital place.