Nestled amongst the snowfall of Tokamachi, this barn-like cabin has been designed by Future-scape Architects. Called the Cottage in Tsumari, the building is just 52 square meters (540 square feet) in size, and pays homage to one of the most diverse and sustainable natural materials available to us – wood.
The cabin was designed as a low-cost public building for locals and visitors of the region. It can be found in a beech forest park and is located in an area that often receives Japan’s heaviest snowfall, sometimes stacking as much as 4 meters high (13 feet).
The building is made up of two “volumes” that have been combined. The outward volume forms what the architects refer to as the “Big Box” – the outer shell. The Big Box deals with elements that are related to the main structure and how to create a building capable of withstanding the heavy snowfall without maintenance in the winter. This outer box also helps keep the building cool during the summer months, acting like a shade for the interior areas of the house.
The second volume, dubbed “Tube” by the architects, contains the functional areas of the home that are essential for habitation. It contains the cooking, eating, washing and bathing areas indicated in the floor plan below.
Both the interior and exterior are clad with wood. On the inside wood is used to section off the different areas of the home. The interior walls have been created with wood slats so as to allow light to pass between the different spaces, and also to prevent a “complete separation” from one room to another.
The architects aimed to create a variety of vantage points for viewing the woods, through both the use color and differing activities. The house contains several floor-to-ceiling windows providing views of the surrounding woodlands. Occasionally the view of the trees outside is interrupted by the structural wood elements on the inside.
For more Japanese houses check out this small house that’s able to provide privacy and natural lighting through clever design. Or the House of Shinamoto-Cho by Container Design that makes use of wood-slat flooring to make the most of sunlight. See all Japanese houses.
Photos: Koji Fujii