There’s more than meets the eye in FORM’s new house

House for a photographer by FORM/Kouichi Kimura. Photo Norihito Yamauchi & Yoshihiro Asada

SHIGA – Widely featured in all corners of the architectural scene, FORM’s principal Kouichi Kimura always satisfies with crisp clean residential design and a comprehensive take on the clients’ needs. In his hometown and apparently his architectural playground, the architect designed a new residence for a photographer. He skilfully associates a gallery, ample space for a working studio, and the photographer’s own living quarters.

Visitors are greeted by an odd appendage coming out to the side of the volume - a concrete and corrugated metal mass - which creates a slim courtyard of sorts ended by a small window. Once past this narrow entrance corridor, a chapel-like gallery displays the works of the photographer. Skylights give a soft glow to the rectangular room where only a couple light fixtures are hung and one window to the front frames a view on the adjacent vernacular architecture.

The main volume to the side is the atelier. The largest room by far, the priorities of the client are clear. A double height room with large openings and different equipment laid around create an open space flexible for photography. It also gives a sneak peek into the two-storey area dedicated to the living quarters that acts as the central core of the house.

Making the most out of an L-shaped plot of land, Kouichi Kimura continues the narrow corridor of the entrance along the rear-end to create another room, in turn forming a courtyard to enjoy from the ground floor living room.

Polished concrete is the materiality of choice, but it shifts to warm-toned wood for the more homely spaces. A quarter of the size of the atelier, the central space emphasizes warmth through its richer colour scheme. On the first floor is a single room opening up to a balcony at the rear of the residence.

Due to cost restraints, the architect chose accessible materials. However no corners were cut in the quality and aesthetic of the spaces. Each room in the two-storey home is carefully crafted with minimalist steel details heightening the purity of the materials chosen for the walls and floors. Subtle floor level changes and ceiling heights varies the architectural experience throughout.

‘Light and shadow expression are important to both the photographer and the architect. I felt the common theme to be interesting,’ adds Kouichi Kimura. Capturing views as well it seems. Each opening to the exterior frames snapshots of the traditional Japanese houses neighbouring the lot, details of the residence’s own quirks, and the tame garden courtyard.

Ground floor plan - 1 Gallery / 2 Living Room / 3 Atelier / 4 Courtyard / 5 Room

First floor plan - 1 Kitchen

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