Imagine living in a house without a single window. Well, in the Japanese city of Nishinomiya, one home has been built with an area of just eight square metres, and not a window in sight.
There were two major points the client wanted for the home: firstly, to park his four-wheel drive, and secondly, a retreat to relax without worrying about the outside world. That brief was met brilliantly.
While claustrophobic to some, the Mountain House provides a secret getaway within the hustle and bustle of the neighbourhood. And if you can’t live without a dose of good sunlight, there’s a skylight installed in the ceiling.
We were impressed with the home, so we asked the architects about their background and how they turn an idea into a unique design.
Tell us a little bit about your background in architecture.
‘We both studied architecture at the School of Science and Engineering, at Kansai University in Osaka. As a part of our graduation research, we stayed in Singapore for a month and studied the hawker centre, an open-air complex of many stalls and stands selling inexpensive food, focusing on the relationship between the factor of the hawker centre’s space configuration and the historical background of Singapore.
‘The research was based on the field survey: we investigated all 125 remaining hawker centres throughout Singapore by measuring the dimensions of characteristic places. The work was published as a thesis paper and presented at the annual meeting of the Kinki Chapter of the Architectural Institute of Japan. After completing our undergraduate (Tomoko) and graduate (Hiroki) studies, we worked in an architect office (Hiroki) and an Interior design office (Tomoko), designing commercial complexes, condominiums, private houses, shops and a supermarket’.
We’re super impressed with your windowless micro home. Where do you get your design ideas from?
‘We start our design process by listening carefully to the client’s words. Through the efforts of understanding the clients’ wishes and requirements and finding out their real feelings, thoughts and ideals, we put our ideas into a few keywords. These keywords are the most important factor in the process of designing and it must be used in the design process by considering the client’s priority.
‘The final shapes and expressions are not guided by arbitrary reasons but by highly pure concepts and logic based on our initial keywords. It means “design” is a great tool to reach the best solution.
‘The knowledge and experience needed in the design process would only be acquired by looking, hearing and using things that have been recognised as a masterpiece in history. We have designed Mountain House, based on this theory’.