New Kyoto Town House – A Narrow Home by Alphaville Architects

Narrows plots of land in Japan’s densely populated cities are being snapped up quicker than ever. Once a relative novelty, houses that are only 8-16 foot wide are becoming more and more common. This house in Kyoto has been designed by architecture firm Alphaville.


New Kyoto Town House - Alphaville - Japan - Exterior - Humble Homes

The house forms part of Alphaville’s “New Kyoto Town House” initiative, whereby they attempt to produce highly functional, yet small-sized, homes for their clients. This house, which is the second to be completed as part of the initiative, is set on a site of 570 square feet (53 square meters).


New Kyoto Town House - Alphaville - Japan - Living Area - Humble Homes

The width the building has been maximised in this case, leaving it with only a slender opening between the adjacent properties. Like a lot of these narrow homes, the car parking space has been partly integrated with the building by recessing the entrance.


New Kyoto Town House - Alphaville - Japan - Stairwell and Kitchen - Humble Homes

The exterior doesn’t reveal much about the house’s make up, but from the inside the timber frame structure is evident and is frequently displayed as a feature of a room. They’ve also made use of concrete floor slabs – it’s somewhat unusual to see the two building technologies employed together, particularly in Japan where they’re known for their woodwork.

New Kyoto Town House - Alphaville - Japan - Bathroom - Humble Homes

Because of its size, the living spaces are spread over several floors. To prevent a disconnect between different living areas, floor slabs between the different levels were withdrawn from one another. This created a greater degree of visibility, and hence connection for the occupants.

New Kyoto Town House - Alphaville - Japan - Floor Plans - Humble Homes

The ground floor contains the car parking space on the outside and the main bathroom on the inside. The first floor serves as a – largely open plan – living room, kitchen and dining area. The third and final floor features the children’s bedroom and the master bedroom on the topmost level. floors. All told, the home has a total of 904 square feet (84 square meters) of living space.

For more small Japanese houses check out this other narrow home that’s set in Nagoya and designed by Apollo Architects. Or, this curvaceous tiny house that’s been created by Flathouse Architects. See all Japanese houses.

Via DesignBoom
Photos: Kei Sugino

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. “they attempt to produce highly functional and comfortable homes for their clients, despite their small size.”

    It’s hard to tell whether you mean that the architects or the clients are of small size.

  2. I think you might have meant “they attempt to produce highly functional, yet small-sized, homes for their clients.” I can’t help it. I’m an editor.

  3. The pedant alert aside, there are a few perhaps more important features to consider in this design.
    The railings as seen in photo #3 have a scary look to them. They are too much like the temporary safety measures crews erect during the construction phase. I wonder how parents with small kids would view them.

    Otherwise, an interesting use of a narrow space that speaks volumes about Japanese cities.
    Thanks, Niall


  4. editorial comments are welcomed by me. keep up the good work. I also like almost everything the Japanese do in designing smaller spaces. Yes, their casual use (or disuse) of railings on stairways is scary. most stairways look like death traps to me. all else is gorgeous.

  5. Rich, you jest, surely? I wouldn’t put my faith in a 2×4 if a 6.8 hit


  6. Michael, if a 6.8 hits you the last thing you’d be worrying about is the 4 x 2. Having said that, looked at the design of it? Due to the angles used in the bracing it is in fact pretty darned strong. Niall I’m sure could clarify that. He is after all an engineer.

    1. They are pretty substantial in size with heavy duty connections, but they look to be supporting the staircase handrails as opposed to providing restraint against earthquakes.