Reminiscent of a yurt, a white cylindrical house in Chiharada, Japan leans towards the traditional Japanese vernacular (light minimalist spaces) but replaces the more customary straight lines with curves. Japan-based architects Studio Velocity were instructed to design a house for a couple and their two children on a unique site in Japan – next to the children’s grandmother who lives in a more mature dwelling adjacent to the new house.
In a space that was previously used for storage and a garage, the new house challenges traditional housing conventions – having the bedrooms on the ground floor and lifting the living areas to the first. What’s more is that this compact house has not one, but four stairwells which emerge at different heights within the rounded form. These box-shaped insertions divide the spaces and create different levels and areas.
Multiple stairways are a unique component to the house, extending the architect’s appeal towards continuous living spaces: ‘By eliminating the discontinuity between multiple floors, you can create a continuous living environment,’ states the architects. Windows are placed at different heights within the stairwells, creating opportunities for light and visual connectivity to other spaces. The curvaceous exterior assists the spread of light inside through its reflective persona, promoted by skylights which allow light to drop into the double height living spaces on the upper floor.
In order to gain space from the the old building architects have opted for a round form, arranging it atop an irregular hill. The terrain creates little gardens around the curved perimeter of the house that can be directly accessed from each of the small rooms on the ground floor.
The only large room, the living room, overlooks the entire house from the first floor. The ground floor and the first floor are relatively close, with a low ceiling that divides the two levels. When the central staircase is open, the gardens can also be seen from the top level.
“The intention behind this project,” state the architects, “has been to make people able to perceive the earth and the sky at the same time and from anywhere, even if it is a multi-story building.”
Photos: Courtesy of Studio Velocity