Making the Most of a Corner Lot in Tokyo – Junichi Sampei

This unusual looking home can be found on a small corner plot in Tokyo. The house has been designed by architect Junichi Sampei and aims to maximize the interior floor plan by exploiting the constraints of Japanese planning laws.


Small Corner House - A.L.X. Junichi SampeI - Japan - Exterior - Humble Homes

Set in a residential suburb of Tokyo, the house is sandwiched between adjacent buildings, while also being exposed to busy streets to the front. Balancing privacy and natural lighting was an obvious concern. To address it, Sampei covered all openings with perforated metal screens.


Small Corner House - A.L.X. Junichi SampeI - Japan - Kitchen and Staircase - Humble Homes

The house contains three floors that create a combined floor area of 840 square feet (78 square meters). The structure is composed of reinforced concrete over which a thin layer of insulation and cladding has been placed. The concrete has been left exposed on the inside – whether it’s to achieve a certain aesthetic, or for spacial reasons is unclear.


Small Corner House - A.L.X. Junichi SampeI - Japan - Living Area - Humble Homes

The starkness of the concrete is softened by a presence of white steel elements, partitions and furniture pieces. That said, the overall atmosphere seems to be quite industrial, however that may soften once the owners move in (depending on how minimalist they are).

Small Corner House - A.L.X. Junichi SampeI - Japan - Staircase - Humble Homes

The first floor is home to a single open plan space that accommodates the kitchen, dining and living area. It also has a double height ceiling in places, looking up to as far as the third floor. Lightweight steel staircases have been used to minimize their impact on the space, and visual clutter.

Small Corner House - A.L.X. Junichi SampeI - Japan - Bathroom - Humble Homes

The more private living spaces are placed on the second and third floors, including an all-glass bathroom on the top level that can be accessed from the stairwell.

For more small Japanese houses check out Re-slope House, a hillside home with tiered living areas. Or, this cozy home from Nada that features a light well in its center. See all Japanese houses.

Via DesignBoom
Photos: Kouichi Torimura

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. Aesthetic? More like anti-aesthetic. Concrete surfaces with holes in it? Sheesh, I know “what the holes are for” but to leave them exposed like that is, to me, design abomination par excellence.

  2. The “holes” in the concrete walls are from the forms used to create them; they have all been filled in. For me there’s a pleasant punctuation of color tone added to the surfaces. I like the multi-layered interior space that was created under a clearly constrained design assignment. As for the exterior, the façade presents to an extreme Tokyo environment of basic urban tract housing and a daunting interlacing of power lines. If I were the owner, I would indeed prefer to turn inward for such a tiny residential space. I wish there were a photo of the interior at night: the white metal gives the effect of shoji through the windows. And the corner exterior triangle reminds me amusingly of the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco designed by Bill Pereira.

    Apparently the minimalist aesthetic from Japan is not much appreciated on this blog. As an old friend in architecture school commented, it’s easy to be a critic.

  3. Sorry Bebe, but the holes from the forms have NOT been filled in. Your comment about that encouraged me to double check and they have a hollow at the surface side. Now it may be, I certainly hope so, that part of the hole has been plugged, but most certainly not plugged up to the surface.

    Of course it is easy to be a critic… one just needs to look at the Perez Hilton’s of this world to see that. The obscenity of that is the money that they get paid to spout their criticisms. Now some of their criticisms may be valid, for example of the Kartrashians. But criticism isn’t necessarily bad. Without criticism many things would never get improved. Of course, going back to the (cough, cough) entertainment world, there is probably no hope of that happening to the Kartrashians and Can ye East (or something like that).

    And one man’s (or woman’s) beauty is anothers ugliness. Would be a pretty bland world if we all loved the absolutely same things would it not?

    In conclusion, if someone criticises then remember the old Latin Maxim… Nil Persperandum.