Ondo – A Small House That Doubles as a Cafe From Tokyo

Modern housing projects in Japan frequently couple work and home. This building, dubbed “Ondo” by the architects, has a first floor cafe with the remainder acting as a residential unit.


It’s set on a corner lot in a residential neighborhood in Tokyo. The project was designed and delivered by local firm, MAMM DESIGN, who are no stranger to the challenges of building in Tokyo.

Ondo - MAMM DESIGN - Tokyo - Exterior - Humble Homes


Ondo is set on a small site of 409 square feet (38 square meter). Thanks to its three floors and rooftop terrace it encloses a total area of 961 square feet (89.3 square meters). According to the architects a lot of time was spent developing the building’s characteristic, particularly in the vertical direction (which might explain the unusual boxy shape).

Ondo - MAMM DESIGN - Tokyo - Kitchen - Humble Homes


The first floor contains the cafe. This level has been raised 3.6 feet (1.1 meters) above the ground to create views of the park to the front, while also allowing them to incorporate a shallow basement for storage. Both the cafe and private living areas above take advantage of large picture windows to provide outward views and plenty of light.

Ondo - MAMM DESIGN - Tokyo - Family Room - Humble Homes

The next level up contains a small but cozy kitchen and dining area to the front. A bathroom/washroom can be found to the side and serves as a public lavatory. The room is flanked by two staircases, one of which has a gentle sweeping spiral to the next floor. The ceiling has been retracted from walls to allow light to filter down from the skylights above.

Ondo - MAMM DESIGN - Tokyo - Living Room - Humble Homes

The third and final floor contains a small living room with another large picture window overlooking the park. There’s also a “hidden room” which acts as a small space for storage. I’m assuming the living room doubles as a bedroom because there’s no mention of it being anywhere else in the house.

Ondo - MAMM DESIGN - Tokyo - Section - Humble Homes

Another sweeping spiral staircase leads up to the rooftop terrace, providing yet another opportunity to soak up the surrounding cityscape.

For more small Japanese houses check out House in Midorigaoka, another residence that combines work and home life. Or, Gandare House, a narrow city home by Ninkipen. See all Japanese homes.

Via ArchDaily
Photos: Daici Ano

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. What the Yanks call the first floor everybody else calls the ground floor. Nuts eh? Time for the Yanks to get with the programme eh?

    DISCLAIMER: Yank is a term widely used world wide for an American of the USofA… as opposed to Yankee which tends to be a derogatory term for a Southerner of the US.

  2. Oooh, the fun of regional use of words. In the North and West of the US the term Yankee is used to refer to New Englanders. In the South and among those who identify with the Confederacy it is used, sometimes perjoratively, to refer to those who live in states that were Union in the Civil War.

  3. Sorry, Paul!
    Yankee is a term for the North, and Rebel for the South!???????????? Yes, I’m a Yank – both ways, apparently! ????????????
    Robin Wright Hissam
    P.S. I still carry English, Irish, Scottish and several other European blood lines – so we are probably cousins!!

  4. Hey Robin… yeah, got a whole bunch of Pommie-ish blood too. Not so sure about anywhere else from Europe but wouldn’t surprise me.

    Interesting your comment because I have been roundly (to put it mildly) criticised by southerners about the term Yanks and how it was sooooo insulting to them and that they were Yankees. Go figure. Thought I’d look it up online and it’s all a bit hazy. No black and white more various shades of grey. So congratulations, I’ve today been edjuhmuhkated! LOL

    This from wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yankee

    Outside the United States, “Yank” is used informally to refer to any American, including Southerners.

    But hey, I don’t have anything against Americans per se. Certain Americans yes but I won’t TRUMPet about it… rg&dfc