FujiwaraMuro Architects, ‘House in Toyonaka’, Osaka, Japan

Located in a residential district in northern Osaka, the House in Toyonaka is surrounded by closely packed houses and lacks any outstanding views. Due to the adjacent homes, maintaining privacy was of the utmost importance. The aim of the design was therefore to create a stimulating and beautiful space that nevertheless had no large windows and was closed to the outside world.

The building comprises a single mass divided into three boxes, the spaces between which serve as the locations for openings that provide fresh air, sunlight and unrestricted lines of sight. The smallness of these openings is precisely what makes the sudden glimpses of sky or streetscape that they offer so striking. The
way the sunlight pours in through them is also remarkable; they serve as devices for making the residents conscious that sunlight constantly shifts over time.

Outside, the use of different exterior wall materials and finishes on each of the three boxes makes it easy to visually comprehend the building’s structure.

The open living-dining-kitchen area is pierced by a light court that extends vertically through the building. Although the light court is constructed with flashing, outside air still passes through it, allowing it to function as an exterior space within the interior that brings light and ventilation to the main living area. Thanks to the court’s glass floor, light penetrates all the way to the first-floor garage, supplementing the not-quite-adequate light coming from the gaps between the boxes. In addition, because this semi exterior space is situated in the living-dining-kitchen area, the home avoids feeling shut-in even though it is in fact closed to the streets outside.