BIWA-KO – When Japanese architect Kouichi Kimura was interviewed for his feature in Mark #47, he made a crystallizing statement: ‘I make architecture for my clients, not for myself.’ Since he founded FORM/Kouichi Kimura Architects in 1991, he has designed single-family homes throughout Shiga Prefecture, each showing a careful attention to the people who live in them. In Kimura’s latest project, Scape House, the client wanted to take advantage of a hillside site’s views of Biwa-ko, Japan’s largest lake, without opening the house too greatly to nearby houses.
The exterior, a sober collection of slender, grey blocks, reflects both the family’s desire for privacy and the division of interior space in narrow, north–south strips that maximize easterly views of the lake. The interior is bright and sensitive to individual members of the family; a wide variety of finishes gives a sense of individuality to each room. In the kids’ room, for example, dark navy contrasts with the wood tones of the atelier next door and with the concrete window seat beyond that.
Kimura’s design for Scape House’s windows is what really stands out about the project. He explains that each is ‘a versatile space that incorporates not only light and scenery, but also tables, benches, book shelves, niches, and other furniture items’. Each window goes beyond its traditional function, becoming an inhabitable, three-dimensional place. Distinguishable by their articulate concrete surfaces, these window zones are sites for specific activities that deepen engagement with their views.