TOKYO – In Japan, as in the rest of the industrialised world, the link between craftsmanship and building is being increasingly weakened, not only by the presence of prefabricated building methods, but also by the gradual ageing of skilled craftspeople. Designed by Sabaoarch, the Jet House tries to re-establish this relationship and to connect its inhabitants to nature.

The house is squeezed onto a small plot in Tokyo’s Setagaya ward and as such, the exterior offers very little room for architectural expression. ‘The exterior is less important than what’s on the inside,’ says the architect and firm’s founder Masanori Kuwabara.

In order to make the small site suitable for the client and his family, the architects imagined the house like a forest, or ‘a jungle gym in which a child can run and move freely.’ Organised around a central staircase that is surrounded by wooden screens, the rooms of the house are arranged on a split level, and all of them, with the exception of the bathroom, are in an open connection with one another, allowing free communication and movement of the various family members.

Furthermore, the construction method as well as the specific material chosen – timber frame of untreated Japanese cypress – brings ‘real wooden warmth and the smell of trees’ that the architects believe should be an ‘experience that should be felt more in common residences.’

Photos Ohno Shigeru and Sabaoarch (where indicated).