28th Shinkenchiku Award Finalist 3: Small House

JA+U : Small House by Unemori Architects © Shinkenchiku-sha

This five story house – one half-sunken below grade – is located on a 34.3 m2 (369 ft2) site. Out of consideration for overshadowing the neighboring houses, architect Hiroyuki Unemori chose to build compact 4 meters by 4 meters (13.1 feet by 13.1 feet) house, instead of building a lower form with larger footprint.

JA+U : Small House by Unemori Architects © Unemori Architects

Site plan and section courtesy of architect

Unemori explained to the jurors under local building codes, the smaller footprint meant that the building could rise to 9 meters-tall (25.5 feet) – taller than the surrounding residences. It also provided open space on the ground level for parking and natural ventilation.

JA+U : Small House by Unemori Architects © Shinkenchiku-sha

JA+U : Small House by Unemori Architects © Unemori Architects

Floor plans courtesy of architect

The resulting house has a simple square plan containing one room per floor. Inside, steel framing and structural plywood flooring are left exposed. Full height portions of the walls hinge outward to let in air and light into the lower levels.

JA+U : 28th Shinkenchiku Award Finalist 3: Small House by Unemori Architects © Shinkenchiku-sha

The jurors praised the architect’s decision to keep the design minimal and focus his attention on details that support his strong underlying concept.