House in Hakone was built in Hakone Town, one of the most popular hot-spring towns in Japan. The rectangular site, 30 meter wide x 39 meter deep, is located in a huge basin, used to be at the bottom of a lake made by volcanic activities in the past. In the district, building design is severely regulated by the National Environmental Law. In a word, it is oriented to make a traditional Japanese architecture with a pitched roof, deep eaves, etc., which was totally opposite to the client, a sculptor, taste for European Modernism. Here my challenge was how to reconcile them.
I thought the key was "transparency" through which interior space is directly interrelated to the exterior. It is a single story house designed in the following processes. First, the whole site was articulated into some portions based upon the client�fs activities. Second, walls were set up in order to characterize each portion; such as, the place for cooking, sleeping, bathing, or working. Third, a glass wall enclosure, composed of 20 meter wide x 10 meter deep ? a pair of 10 meter square side by side, was juxtaposed upon the wall articulation. As a result, interior and exterior becomes interrelated somehow automatically.
In terms of making space, floor levels are differentiated from one space to another under a flat ceiling overall. With the interaction of wall articulations, spatial sequences can be appreciated not by completely opaque but by slightly overlooking to somewhere beyond; which is the essence of sukiya, the typical Japanese building style represented in Katsura Imperial Palace.
Structurally, the roof skeleton is like a huge umbrella of steel construction. Each square has a single round-shaped column on each center, so that the house has only two columns for carrying the vertical load. While the concrete walls scatter the horizontal load in the case of earthquakes. As a result, the mullion on the perimeter bears nothing in structure, which enables to use a timber for glazing. Using wooden materials along the perimeter is quite effective against the sulfuric air because the acid air around the hot-spring area makes metals easily rotten. About materials, the upper floor from entrance, gallery, dining, to kitchen, is covered by marble; on the other, the lower is by oil-finished flooring. The living can be divided into two portions when a huge red sliding door is pulled out to make a guest place for sleeping. The bathroom has a tiny enclosed garden for securing privacy.
Text by Satoshi Okada