WAKAYAMA – Architects Yoshinari Kimura and Naoko Matsumoto, co-founders of Japanese studio KimuraMatsumoto, designed a property for their coworker’s family of four at the side of a mountain in Wakayama, Japan.

Surrounded by vast rice paddies, fields for growing vegetables and a narrow waterway, Shino House’s architecture incorporates these natural elements both technically and visually. By simplifying the specific land formations of the site and following the strategies used by local people who built their houses, distributed their electrical wires and planted their fields according to the flow of water, the architects were able to ‘compose fitting architectural elements.’

The result was a space that holds at once the characteristics of a house and a landscape. A slightly angled 16 x 6.4 steel frame supports the roof under which the living areas are divided by and organized as islands across an open space. A closed island containing the bathroom and toilet separates the common areas (kitchen and living room) from the master bedroom, closet and study room, while a wide bookshelf helps enclose the children’s bedroom at the other end of the house.

An elevated, rectangular concrete floor marks the spatial division between these living spaces and the two triangular indoor terraces. The visual separation, on the other hand is made by wide curtains, whose movement and flexibility lend the house a fluid aesthetic component.

This lack of doors and top to bottom walls allow the interior spaces to be experienced as one big room, as a complete and complex landscape. Likewise, the large glazed openings and clerestory windows that circle the house seem to welcome the surrounding scenery indoors. 

Images courtesy of Yuko Tada