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Shingo Masuda House with City

Shingo Masuda + Katsuhisa Otsubo Architects' "House with City," designed for a couple and their child, is located on a narrow lot adjacent to a lively shopping street in central Tokyo. Suggesting something inserted into the residual space between two buildings, the residence, measuring 2.6m x 11.88m, expands its boundaries and interfaces with its neighborhood through an open ground floor.

The southwest-facing project is two floors in height, the first of which is raised 4.5m off the ground by a steel frame comprised of rolled, H16 steel flanges. The conditioned portion of the residence is constructed with a 100mm timber frame, insulated with calcium silicate board, and sprayed uniformly with a coarse plaster finish.

The .5m height difference between the residence’s floor slabs and those of neighboring buildings permits views, on the second floor, that extend far beyond the roofline of the building to the project’s rear. At the ground level, this difference creates ample space for a suspended ventilation unit within its tall, semi-enclosed void.

This void—programmatically functioning somewhere between a yard, entrance, and continuation of the street—is primarily daylit by diffuse light that enters through the 250mm gaps on both sides of the residence, and via the external stairwell at the end of the lot. Piping, for both water supply and stormwater, is run to the gap along the project’s northern side. This gap contains a narrow garden for catching roof run-off.

The 100mm timber frame permits an open floor plan and free partitioning in the residence’s interior. The first floor includes a continuous kitchen and living room space—which can accommodate a dining area when there are large groups of visitors—and a sculptural, cantilevered steel stair to the second floor.

The second floor is comprised of a washroom and bath, arranged between two bedrooms that benefit from the southwest and northeast facades’ floor-to-ceiling glass. The master bedroom, located at the back of the lot, has an unobstructed view of the roofscape of the surrounding neighborhood, while the southwest facade—serving a double-height space that contains both the living room and second bedroom—faces the street.

To offset solar gain via the street-facing facade, double-height curtains, constituted by trapezoidal folds, were installed. The number of folds varies between floors; the segment screening the first floor contains 2.5 folds, while the second floor contains one. This difference in the material quality of the curtains permits a greater level of transparency on the second floor while offering a greater degree of privacy to the first, offering some control to the extent to which the residence interfaces with its neighborhood, when desired.