On a corner lot in Tokyo, a contemporary refuge takes cues from traditional Japanese arts and garden design.
When a client asked Tokyo-based firm Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP to design a home that would embrace the changing seasons, Nakamura and project architect Kohei Omori found inspiration in Japan’s traditional art forms, starting with Japanese landscape design.
“Our aim was to create a house with the experience of strolling around a garden,” the architects explain. The U-shaped home wraps around a 2,420-square-foot courtyard with a large man-made hill—an element borrowed from traditional ‘tsukiyama’ gardens—that bounces reflected light into the house.
“An artificial hill was placed in the inner garden so that all rooms have light. Like Ginkakuji (the Silver Pavilion) in Kyoto, where a sand cone moon-viewing platform in a sea of silver sand distributes moonlight to the different buildings, the hill reflects the transition of light and flow of time to each of the rooms.”
To maximize views of the inner garden and access to reflected light, the architects installed full-height operable glazing in each of the rooms oriented towards the courtyard. Privacy is protected with tall metal fencing that conceals the house from the street. The gridded fencing, which mimics traditional bamboo lath structures, inspired the residence’s name: the Lath House.
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