SHIGA – Designed for a young family in the Japanese Shiga prefecture, east of Kyoto, the unadorned yet striking house responds to a particular request by the homeowners: the inclusion of a gallery space within the living area. Architect Kouichi Kimura was inspired by this particular demand and opted for a scheme of framed spaces, emphasising each element of the house by carefully playing with materials, colours and minimal forms.

From the street, an alley with a light pavement, which contrasts the exterior’s black façade, cuts through the house leading to a courtyard at the rear. When moving through this space, the single tree in the courtyard is framed as if it were a piece of art. The passage separates the entrance hall of the house from the gallery space, but the large windows on either side make sure there is a visual connection between the two.

Inside, many architectural elements have been treated with special attention: subtle details such as a raised wooden floor and carved ceiling edges mark the transition from one space to another; walls are coloured in different shades of grey; and transitions from concrete to wood make different elements stand out. Thus, the house becomes something of a gallery as well, showcasing the substituent parts with which it is made.

Photos courtesy of Yoshihiro Asada