This house is called M and was designed by Takeru Shoji Architects in the Japanese city of Uonuma. It has small rooms that are suspended above a double-height living room, which is located in a “residential property”.
The house eschews the conventions for building in Uonuma, which has a climate characterized by hot, humid summers and cold winters with heavy snowfall, by creating a space that is open to the environment rather than excluded. Buildings in the city are often raised on high foundations with thick walls, which leads to a practice called “isolation between inside and outside”, which they absolutely wanted to avoid. The house follows the tradition of a raised concrete foundation to cope with heavy snowfall. Instead of placing the house on this foundation, it was designed as a “residential foundation” into which the house enters.
Takeru Shoji architects relied on traditional outdoor buffers such as verandas and conservatories and designed most of the house as an exposed living, kitchen and dining area that opens onto a south-facing terrace. Smaller private rooms are at the north end of the house. The living, kitchen and dining area is surrounded by the foundation wall, which is heated by a wood stove in winter. In summer, the thermal mass of the concrete helps keep the living space cool. To make the walls appear thinner, insulation was built up on the outside, which makes it possible to expose the wooden structure inside and to contrast the concrete date of the foundation.
A white-painted block at the north end of the house houses the entrance hall, bathroom and vanity, as well as a bedroom upstairs. This connects via a raised walkway to an open work area that overlooks the living space below, creating a balcony with views out the south-facing windows that can slide back to be completely open to the elements.