N-House

Constructed on a deep plot of land in Aomori prefecture, this private residence would automatically be long stretched. In response to this characteristic of the site, the aim was to explore a feel of openness and transparency. In the longitudinal direction from the entrance, the vista knits together the living room, dining area, the Japanese room and the garden in one view. All these major spaces are articulated by “in-between zones” in lateral direction that create the same kind of varying depth and visual measurability as in old Dutch paintings in which there are always a series of adjacent spaces visible that extend beyond the limit of the space.

These in-between zones not only separate they also connect, like cross passages in the city. They are part of the circulation giving access to the functions in the service zone, such as the staircase to the second floor, the bathroom, storage and toilets. This is therefore not a house built out of separate rooms and corridors but rather of spaces that stand in direct relation with each other by means of transition zones, hence resulting in transparency of space.

By placing the service functions in a small zone along the north side, between double walls the house was given a backbone that stretches the whole length of the house. Against this enclosure, the main spaces such as the living dining kitchen, Japanese room and the bedrooms are placed in linear direction over two floors. The void over the living room gives the house its center of gravity.

A higher degree of openness was created on the south side that allows for a strong relation with the exterior and lets in a lot of natural light and sunlight. Both the client requirement for a warm house and good views of the surrounding mountains and ski-slopes were resolved in this way. The sunlight warms up the house and the windows give strategic views of the surrounding and energy efficiency through daylight penetration.

 

Being in an area of Japan with cold winters with a lot of snow in addition to this passive heat gain on the south side glazing, the house was isolated with 100mm insulation material and all the windows were fitted with pair glass. The feel of warmth of the house is further strengthened by the use of materials. The main structure is a wooden column and post structure left exposed in the ceilings of the main spaces. Only a few finishing materials are used and in a clear order. The walls in the length of the house are finished with 900 mm x 900 mm square meranti plywood panels treated with transparent lacquer while in contrast in the cross direction, the walls are finished in Japanese spruce plywood. The floors are in birch plywood for the main spaces and orange brown plywood (Nitax Wisa Light Brown from Finland that is protected with a poly-vinyl layer developed as material for concrete formwork) for the in-between zones. The Japanese room and the master bed room is finished with a tatami floor while the spare bedroom has a floor of Larch plywood stained whitish the same as the ceilings of the main spaces. Only the in-between zones have a lowered ceiling that accentuates the meaning of these zones.

This simplicity of materials is to avoid the use of catalogue materials and to avoid as much as possible the use of standard products. Instead standard raw materials were used to the size of a dimension system (900 mm x 900 mm base module) to give homogeneity to the spaces and the building. Throughout the house, the openness can be moderated by opening or closing sliding doors. By using color difference (orange concrete formwork plywood against Birch plywood) in the floor and changes in the ceiling, the spaces are determined. Add to this the clarity of the module used to give rhythm to the materials automatically strengthening the optically measurability of distances.

 

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