Japanese Architecture

Unique Homes in Japan: Origami House

The name of this unique home in Japan is derived from its roof, which was modelled on origami paper shapes.

Named Origami House, this two-story residence was designed by TSC Architects’ principal Yoshiaki Tanaka and is located in a village surrounded by mountains, in Mie prefecture.

Photo © Masato Kawano

Photo © Masato Kawano

The house is framed by its angular roof, which is folded in five places to create a series of triangular faces. The roof meets the ground at several points around the perimeter, which creates an envelope enclosing the center of the building.

Photo © Masato Kawano

Photo © Masato Kawano

The 112-sqm (1,206 square feet) house was built for a couple on a site that has been in the family for several generations. The grandparents’ house is actually located on the adjacent plot, and a stone wall built by the grandfather encircles the building site. The architect decided to leave the wall and the foundation stone but designed the house to meet the needs of the young couple’s lifestyle.

Photo © Masato Kawano

Half terrace created by the origami roof. Photo © Masato Kawano

“The origami roof stands from the earth like a tent, creates tolerant space and protects the life of the family,” writes the architect.

The origami roof has numerous functions besides sheltering the house:

  • Because it has contact with the ground it diminishes wind pressure and makes the whole structure more earthquake resistant;
  • The big eaves block direct sunlight and protect the outer wall from rain and helps to circulate air through the house (the architect also situated the house so that in the summer, wind drafts flow from the south window to the north;
  • It creates a covering for a half-open deck connected to the living room, which the architect envisions as a small gathering space for the people of the village
The double-height living room is at the center of the house. Photo © Masato Kawano

The double-height living room is at the center of the house. Photo © Masato Kawano

The architect placed the living room and dining room at the center of the house to maximize the use of the internal space. The other rooms, including the kitchen, Japanese-style room, bedroom and bathroom surround the living room and kitchen.

The living room and kitchen are at the center of the house. Photo © Masato Kawano

The living room and kitchen are at the center of the house. Photo © Masato Kawano

The Japanese-style room is located off of the living room. Photo © Masato Kawano

The Japanese-style room is located off of the living room. Photo © Masato Kawano

The architect points out that Japanese houses have to adapt to the changing of the season. The wood-burning stove anchors the living room and warms the entire house in the winter. As mentioned above, the big eaves created by the origami roof blocks the direct rays of the sun in the summer and the house is situated such that summer breezes flow south-to-north.

A wood-burning stove anchors the living room. Photo © Masato Kawano

A wood-burning stove anchors the living room. Photo © Masato Kawano

Origami House floor plan. Image via ArchDaily

Origami House floor plan. Image via ArchDaily

Origami House sectional. Image via ArchDaily

Origami House sectional. Image via ArchDaily

 

Origami House Roof Fold. Image via ArchDaily

Origami House Roof Fold. Image via ArchDaily

You may also be interested in: Buried Pyramid House in Hiroshima

 

Photo Credit: © Masato Kawano