Olioli House – A Family Home Inspired by Nature from Mitaka, Tokoyo

Set on a site surrounded by chestnut trees in Mitaka, Tokoyo, this small unassuming house has been dubbed Olioli by the client. Its name refers to the Japanese saying of “shiki-olioli”, which translates as “four seasons, different scenes”.


The project was completed back in 2014 and was produced in a collaborative effort between two Japanese architecture studios; Seets and Spectacle.

Olioli - Seets + Spectacle - Japan - Exterior - Humble Homes


The split level property has a total of 1,033-square-feet (96-square meters) to avail of. When designing the home, the architects looked to nature and the surrounding site for inspiration. They then attempted to distill its beauty and harshness into the home: “we thought of incorporating these qualities found in the field. However, we had also to acknowledge the fact that nature can be harsh.”

Olioli - Seets + Spectacle - Japan - Living Area - Humble Homes


The client asked for the home to be open to the surroundings, but in such a way so as to not have their own privacy compromised. As a result, Olioli house features a lot of small windows that provide snapshots of the landscape without revealing the interior spaces.

Olioli - Seets + Spectacle - Japan - Living Area 2 - Humble Homes

The exterior is mostly conventional, spare for the randomly placed windows. The interior however, is a more experimental space with all rooms being left open to one another across the width and height of the home. The aim with this arrangement was to promote interaction for the owners and their three children.

Olioli - Seets + Spectacle - Japan - Loft Area - Humble Homes

The living spaces are defined by a series of timber boxes. To maintain the open layout, doors and openings were included in each of them. Some of them feature shutters, allowing them to be closed off from the other rooms, providing some respite when needed.

Olioli - Seets + Spectacle - Japan - Section - Humble Homes

From the designers: “Thus a varied dynamic of scale was achieved in the house. In this gently divided space, just like walking between trees in nature, there is a continuity of space despite the divisions.”

For more Japanese houses check out the Loft House, a minimal home for a family of five from Tokushima. Or, Blemen House, a small house for newlyweds. See all Japanese Houses.

Via ArchDaily
Photos: Japan Architecture

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. Paint needed in the interior of the place. You will possibly get bored with just the wood and feel closed in. Splash of color helps brightens up your day. Do you ever look at the interior of your house or car? why I am asking is that last year, I was in a car wreck and car was totaled and had to find a new car. I drove several cars and had my mechanic check out the cars I was interested in and found out that most of the interior of the cars were dark – black, charcoal. dark brown, gray and possible light gray or beige. I remember as a child that the cars my parents had, the interiors could be blue or green. Same thing with a house also. What are you comfortable with? What colors do you like or dislike? In viewing the cars, I wondered when someone had a accident and felt asleep at the wheel, did they also check the interior of the car beside checking to see if the person was on medication or taking drugs, legal or illegal. Color affects us especially if we are depressed. Use paint also and different materials also to really perk up any place.

  2. I think it is wonderful. Less maintenance when you do not have to paint and the wood is still beautiful. An open concept is also nice for a family to stay more connected but still able to have some privacy when needed. New ideas are what the world is all about. I myself like it.

  3. I agree. I hope this whole design trend of having people live in packing crates is over soon. Even a nice whitewashing would be nice.