The house is located in one of the most prestigious residential areas in Tokyo. The site is quasi square shape of 21 meters in width by 23 meters in depth, a totally flat terrain, but the front public road is slightly sloping down from west to east by 60 centimeters gap at each end. The client, the age of forties, is a successful entrepreneur, lives with his wife and a daughter. He is a lover of supercars, sometimes becomes a racer, and his little dream at home is to view the cars as long time as possible. For the house design, he had three major requirements. The first is to park six cars in front of the public road; two of them are for ordinary use, the other four are for the private gallery for supercars. The second is to enjoy a high ceiling living room, and the last is to construct the house by a reinforced concrete structure with an exposed concrete finish. The client came to my office with reference to the houses I designed with the same typology for the same purposes in “House in Matsubara 2001” (Casabella 702, pp. 8-13) and “House in Aobadai 2005” and asked me to design his new house in the same way like a fortification.
Here in the densely populated metropolis, the building type, “house with a wall enclosure,” seems to become effective for protecting the resident’s privacy as well as their secure life inside . Historically, because most of the residential districts in Tokyo, except some traditional areas in downtown, have rapidly been developed for half a century after the World War II, the human relation among neighbors has not well been rooted in those who settled down the newly cultivated circumstances. As a result, the urban community has not substantially been grown up, which has caused a serious problem of social crimes in Japan, today. In addition to the increase of social crimes, the fear for a probability of severe earthquakes hit on Tokyo area in the near future makes the inclination towards the house typology accelerated more than before. However, because it is one of the most expensive construction methods, it is rather for very limited people who can build their secured realms enclosed by the rigid and fireproof walls of reinforced concrete; and it is the reality of house-designs in Tokyo, today.
In House in Kakinokizaka, “patio” is the key for making the client’s dream realized. It functions as a medium between the supercar gallery and living quarters. Under the set-back regulation which limits the building height less than 6.5 meter, in order to make the living room ceiling higher, the master bedroom beneath the living room was set a half story down below the ground level. As the result, residents are satisfied with the view to supercars over the patio from the main bedroom as well as from the living room.
The facade is articulated both horizontally and vertically, because the full range of flat surface is oppressive to human eyes, and is out of the context of a series of neighbor houses on the street. The planning of the house is quite simple. The main entrance is automatically placed in-between the supercar gallery and the garage for ordinary vehicles. The south-north axis starting at the entrance becomes a linear circulation core, to which every room is attached.
# In Japan, the prototype of the house can be ascribed to Makoto Suzuki and Kazuo Shinohara in the early 1970s before appearing Tadao Ando’s “Row House in Sumiyoshi.” From the sociological point of view, in the age of Suzuki, Shinohara, and Ando, they regarded “house” as the last bulwark against the society and the age when Japan had an extraordinary rapid expansion of economy in 1960s. In the period, the mass felt an alienation from the society, a super accelerated milieu towards urbanization, with the keyword “the loss of humanity.” In the context, they tended to consider their own home was the least and the last castle to recognize and maintain humanity in a family. From Suzuki to Ando, they tried to design houses of fortification for those who resisted against such a psychological fear; that is, an invisible fear. To the contrary, today, in a fully matured society, the mass comes to suffer from a visible fear against real crimes which happen much more frequently than before.
Text by Satoshi Okada