When thinking of a picturesque Japanese hillside, the traditional clay tiles undulating alongside the mountains come to mind. Inserting itself into this postcard image is Daisaku Hanamoto’s House in Ohue. Mindful of its place amongst the vernacular, the 126 sq-m house translates the traditional gable roofs into standing seam panels and uses tones that easily blend into the residential neighbourhood.

‘When I first saw this village, I was fascinate with the view. The view of all those old houses along the slope looked so neat and organized, and also the ridgeline of the mountain and sky looked so clear and beautiful,’ remembers the architect.

The house is completely surrounded by its neighbours and the entry to the house is in a funnel-shaped pathway. Its western façade faces a retaining wall with three residences overlooking it. The house consists of three volumes placed on a North-South axis.  

The first volume holds the entrance hall and storage with amenities. Continue on and the second volume houses the main living area. An open plan, the ceiling has clerestory windows and varying heights to create a narrative around the space. There is a square tatami corner acting as a reminder of the vernacular. Wood posts cut through the generous room and divide the living area from the kitchen and dining space.

The third volume at the back is a half storey higher and has the master bedroom. Looking back towards the entrance from here gives the resident a layered view of the house. Posts, walls, odd fenestration go into frame and add depth to the minimalist tableau of the Japanese house.

The roof has multiple surfaces following the three volumes - creating a dynamic conversion between the residence, its neighbours and the ridgeline of the mountains in the background. Grey and white dominate both in the interior and exterior cladding, with wooden pieces to contrast in the interior. The sparse fenestrations are strategically placed to capture the charm of the neighbourhood and the landscape beyond it.