House is Matsubara was built in Setagaya, a typical residential district in Tokyo. The rectangular site, 9.5m wide x 27m deep, is open to a narrow road on tshe west, and other sides are closely faced by neighbors building.
Here, I tried to apply a tradition to contemporary practice. When I first visited the site, I thought I could adopt the wisdom of "machiya" which I indeed experienced in my childhood in Kyoto. Machiya is a traditional Japanese merchant house, where even in the hottest summer one can appreciate a comfortable life with breeze generated by gardens. The building type is enclosed usually by double story high walls around, inside which a living quarter is placed between small gardens.
The mechanism of generating breeze is based upon the principle of air pressure. Suppose a room sandwiched by two gardens (X & Y); X is easily heated up by the Sunlight, Y is hardly warmed. When the warmed air in the garden X rises up to the sky, and when the residential space is open to both gardens, the cool air in the garden Y is extracted towards X, which gives a breeze passing through the residence.
In the house, I enclosed the residential sphere by reinforced concrete wall, and planned the core interior space at the center. Automatically, two gardens took place separately. The fore garden functions as a roji, the typically tiny Japanese tea garden, as well as a walkway to the main entrance. The rear garden is to a private space extended from the master bedroom. Finally, I regarded the entrance hall as the wind way connecting between those two gardens. As a result, the challenge was successful. In hot summer days, the cool breeze from the rear garden is passing through the house inside, and the client lives without air-conditioning machines except the hottest days over 32 Celsius. Garden is a piece of architecture towards making a whole sphere integrated for human living.
The skylight above the entrance hall is effective for energy saving. When the concrete wall gets the sunlight, it accumulates heat due to the large thermal capacity. Particularly in winter, the wall radiates heat into the air for making the living room warm.
Structurally, a new structural method, Light-steel Panel Unit System (LsPUS) was invented in the practice. It is consisted of concrete bearing wall and light steel panel units. The former supplies a vertical structure, while the latter composes horizontal slabs. The panel units, in particular, are prefabricated of light steel members (mostly C-150), and set in-between the walls. It is effective to shorten the construction period; accordingly, to reduce the construction cost. In this case, it took only three days for making slabs, though it took at least two months when they were made of reinforced concrete. The method of LsPUS is convenient for easy demolishment and reconstruction when some transformation is required under the changes of life style. It is useful for small urban houses in severely limited sites.
Text by Satoshi Okada