A Contemporary Timber Frame House for An Illustrator

Another Japanese house today, except this time it’s been designed for an illustrator as opposed to a family. Set in a residential neighborhood in Kitakamakura, Kanagawa, the house has been designed in a collaborative effort by studios Ouvi and Snark.


House in Kitakamakura - Small House - Sunao Koase Architects - Japan - Living Area - Humble Homes

Simply named the “House in Kitakamakura”, it’s set on a raised site that overlooks the city below. It contains two levels with the first floor being left largely open to a vaulted ceiling above. The opening is framed by the chunky timber structure of the upper level.


House in Kitakamakura - Small House - Sunao Koase Architects - Japan - Kitchen - Humble Homes

Unlike many Japanese homes which seek to strike a balance between natural daylighting and privacy, this house welcomes lots of window openings. The designers weren’t as concerned with privacy as they were about embracing the surroundings: “Many of the buildings that create the surrounding skyline seem to project spaces that shield people from the external environment. Instead we should foster an environment where we become a part of our surrounding area, and provide a means for residents to create their own ideal living space at home.”


House in Kitakamakura - Small House - Sunao Koase Architects - Japan - Storage - Humble Homes

The first floor acts as a multifunctional room. There’s a kitchen and storage area set along one wall and a washroom/bathroom along another. The central section of the room is left – for the most part – empty, allowing the owner to determine the exact arrangement (be it a living room, workspace, study etc).

House in Kitakamakura - Small House - Sunao Koase Architects - Japan - Bathroom - Humble Homes

The upper level contains a single bedroom, a large walk-in closet, and a quiet studio space that looks out over the cityscape. The atrium is wrapped on two sides by a large exterior deck that’s accessible from a series of patio doors. Like the floor below, the ceiling features exposed timber beams and rafters.

House in Kitakamakura - Small House - Sunao Koase Architects - Japan - Floor Plans - Humble Homes

The sheer amount of windows helps to create series of snapshot views of the exterior, from the city below and other adjacent towns, to Mount Fuji and Tanzawa in the distance. According to the architects the large windows were crucial to the idea of creating a home that would merge with its environment, helping to remove the boundary between interior and exterior.

For more Japanese houses check out yesterday’s post which also features an atrium that’s used to connect living spaces. Or, this house that contains a large roof overhang to provide shelter for its inhabitants come rain or sun. See all Japanese houses.

Via Dezeen
Photos: Ippei Shinzawa

Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.

1 Comment
  1. I like it a lot except for possible 3 things. 1. a curtain for the shower or cutting of a shower curtain and pinning it to the window to provide more privacy in the shower. 2.Add a staircase especially if the bedroom is upstairs. They would have to move and or sell the house if they married and had children for the bedroom. Also how would they get furniture upstairs like a bed or a dresser or chest of drawers? I had to go back over the pictures again. I do see the openness of the staircase with railings in the first picture. Great. Is that for the bedroom and possibly storage areas in the place or a small area for storage. I definitely like the top to bottom bookcase. I would like to see more of that possibly more in a house or a apartment especially if the owner or renter is a reader like me. But 3rd. in the picture with the bookcase, in essence I am seeing a ladder. Is that for books or some type of storage or is it to get to the 2nd floor? If for 2nd floor, a circular staircase might be better or a more compact one if it is a separate space from the original stairs in the first picture. Could the walls be increased a little bit more especially the room with the bookcase to have behind the bookcase either a bathroom or a storage room with access to a hallway. It looks too small though I definitely enjoy the floor to the ceiling bookcase.