ESPACE: A home that directs daylight
October 26, 2022
This small two-storey, wood-frame house is tucked into a downtown residential neighbourhood in Shinagawa, Tokyo. The clients—a couple with minimalist taste and few superfluous possessions—wanted a private home on the compact lot, one that prioritised a spacious atmosphere over rooms that were physically large.
The lot abuts the north side of a narrow road and is hemmed in by closely packed houses. To maintain privacy in this environment, the street-facing façade has no windows; all-natural light comes from a courtyard and clerestory windows.
First, the architects used a rigid wood frame to make the most efficient use of the frontage. The gate-shaped frame avoids the need for load-bearing walls on the north side of the house, allowing for three windows to occupy the full width of that side, with a row of clerestory windows above.
Built-in wall storage takes advantage of the shape of the frame’s posts, making the space functional with little additional furniture needed.
The most striking feature of the house is its provision of natural lighting. In the family room that occupies the whole of the second floor, three north-side windows allow soft, diffused lighting inside the home. Meanwhile, direct southern sunlight shines in along the sloped roof and is reflected off a wall into the room, brightening the area near the windows. This light filters through floor grates onto the first floor, where the bedroom and bathroom are located.
The split ceiling lets in daylight Clerestory windows near the ceiling
In addition, light pours through clerestory windows running the length of the north side, casting gradations on the sloped gable ceiling and ensuring that the kitchen at the back of the house receives adequate lighting.
By treating the entire building as a reflector, the architects created a separate ‘universe’ of diffused light that makes the home feel spacious, echoing the tranquil character of its residents.
Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo, Japan
77.68 square metres
50.79 square metres
Total Floor Area
98.02 square metres
2 storeys above ground
APOLLO Architects & Associates Co., Ltd.
Masaki Structure (Kenta Masaki）
SIRIUS LIGHTING OFFICE Inc.
Kimura Ryozo Construction