T3 by Cubo Design Architect

The house is nestled quietly atop a hill in the historic Japanese city of Kamakura, a wonderfully scenic location overlooking the Shonan coastline, with distant views of Japan’s iconic peak of Mount Fuji.

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This house was designed for an international couple based in Japan, France, and the United States – a French artist and his Japanese wife – who are keenly interested in the aesthetic of Japanese gardens, as well as Japanese culture and architecture.

The clients, who first became interested in Japanese culture through the traditional tea ceremony, have for a long time cultivated a growing interest in Japanese gardens. Having finally decided to settle permanently in Japan, they intend the house to be a place for them to live out their dream.

In addition to their own domestic comfort, it was important for them that the house be equipped to host guests from overseas as a guesthouse that will also provide an architectural feast for the eyes.

In response to the clients’ requests, we identified the following architectural themes:

To incorporate the symbolic beauty of the surrounding nature and available lines of sight into the architecture so that the structure is in harmony with the site
To adopt a modern Japanese style while simultaneously incorporating traditional methods, practices, and materials
To enable guests to experience a comforting Japanese aesthetic through architecture

The façade is designed so as to be completely closed off from the street side by a concrete wall, emphasizing privacy, while the rest of the house opens out as much as possible on the surrounding scenic landscape. The architectural layout and open-close study make it possible to block distracting structures from field of view, drawing exclusive focus on the majestic nature and wonderful scenery.

A celebrated hallmark of Japanese sukiya architecture is the beauty of continuous eaves, which marry design with function to protect from rain and direct sunlight. We adapted the traditional design of continuous eaves in a modern way, maintaining their sharp, delicate beauty while boldly adopting new materials such as steel plate in their structure and finish.

Drawing on the inherent potential of these materials highlights the strength and delicacy of Japanese architectural design. The use of industrial finishes and plastics characteristic of recent houses has been minimized, with priority instead being given to the coordinated use of traditional Japanese building materials (including granite, Japanese paper, black plaster, wood lattice, and louvers) as a means of showcasing Japanese features and communicating a Japanese aesthetic to foreign visitors.

We hope this hybrid of modern and traditional Japanese design will integrate seamlessly with the surrounding nature and facilitate deep and meaningful exchanges with visitors.

Photography courtesy of Cubo Design Architect

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- by Matt Watts