Architects: Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects
Sometimes the most brilliant solutions arise within the most rigid constraints. Occupying a mere 248 square feet, the elegant House T by Hiroyuki Shinozaki takes inspiration from a bookcase, with functional, shelflike living areas connected by open rectangles that create a feeling of expansiveness despite the cramped lot.
Designed for a Tokyo couple as a private residence and working atelier, House T is as functional as it is beautiful, with living spaces divided into boxlike sections that create "stages" on which scenes of everyday life are played out.
Your experience of the space may be completely different depending on your vantage point inside the house. Subtle variations in the height of the flooring, for example, make it difficult to ascertain where one room begins and another ends. Viewed from the top, however, the structure's gridlike format becomes apparent (it's like pulling the roof off a dollhouse and looking inside).
Divided into quarters, all of the boxes have open walls on one or more sides, allowing daily activities to occur in plain view. Overall, the space has a clean, minimalist mood, yet the design also incorporates practical considerations (ignore the general clumsiness of ladders in lieu of staircases).
Many surfaces in the space serve a variety of functions. A bright oak staircase at the first-floor entry is outfitted with storage cubbies that echo the cubic geometry of the house, and a handrail doubles as a bookshelf in one room and as a wardrobe in another. In one of the "boxes," a small, sunken study area incorporates the floor above as a surface for a keyboard.
Furnishings, for the most part, are minimal and unobtrusive, like the sparsely appointed kitchen furbished with a simple oak countertop and carefully placed greenery. By contrast, a handful of antique accents—like the vintage factory cart and wooden storage boxes in the living room—lend warmth and personality to the otherwise stark space.
—Blair Pfander. Follow her at @blairpfander
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