House Connected by Courtyard / Naf Architect & Design
Text description provided by the architects. A house with 9 jo (approx. 30 m2) courtyard surrounded by three-story walls with large fixed windows. The courtyard provides visual continuity to rooms through glass windows and the family to feel presence of each other sterically.
In the courtyard, deciduous trees reaching third floor are planted with lower trees and undergrowth. Four rain chains are hanging from the roof where rain is collected for irrigation. A large table and benches for ten people with BBQ grill and kitchen are installed on the ground paved with bricks where natural light from the sky falls on the courtyard reflecting on surrounding glass windows, scattering foliage shadows.
The courtyard is outdoor, but its stairs and beams are the same colors as indoor. The color of sash is the same as that of exterior walls and the size of glass windows is maximized to create seamless impression of inside and outside courtyard, giving the courtyard practical use in everyday life.
The premises is in residential area of posh Meguro ward, a square lot of approx. 200m2 surrounded by two- and three- story houses. Given this condition, the client had a house with courtyard in mind at the initial stage. When the lot is too small or irregular shape, plotting courtyard needs a twist, but we had good conditions to start designing a courtyard.
The client family consists of a couple with foreign citizenship and three children who have spent long time outside Japan where standard size of living environment is much larger than that of Japan. We had design meetings in their rented house with a standard Japanese room layout where their large furniture and furnishings were uncomfortably fitted with other life-enriching items and staples randomly placed, giving impression the place being too small for their lifestyle.
Possessions of the client amassed from their living in several countries, some of which were in ren A spacious kitchen for the couple to cook together, living room with fireplace, a guest room for their parents from overseas to stay, free space for yoga lessons with the wife’s friends, library, garden space, spacious and well-equipped BBQ place for the husband were among the list of conditions, all of which require a certain largeness.
At the same time, the construction cost needed to be within the budget. We started by three stories of doughnut shape void around the courtyard and allocated necessary function in the void. The voids were almost filled with specific rooms at the end, except for entrance porch on the first floor and balcony on the second and third floor, making the final shape of void as C. These voids on each floor are placed on the façade of the building with wooden louvers. The courtyard can be accessed from the frontal road through the void, and upper floors are connected to the outside through wooden louver and shadows behind.
The façade is 2.5 m set back from the frontal road, providing an open space in the shoulder as there is no fence. When the façade is on the north frontal road, the house tends to stand on the north end to give way to the garden on the south side, not leaving a setback space. (Adjacent houses actually have fences without setback.) This project has a garden in the center of the building, not needing garden in the south, and the client had requested to ease pressure from the frontal road.
Some time after the family started living in the house, the client told us of their plan to invite their families and friends for We were glad to hear that this occasion may be the first step for the family to gradually establish relations with their community through the courtyard.