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Courtyard House without Second Floor

When we were asked to plan a new house in a quiet residential area in Tokyo, the client couple’s request was to create a courtyard-style house. What we envisioned at the site was a courtyard floating in the sky.

The surrounding area is a low-rise residential area popular for the undulating terrain and abundant sunshine, so a courtyard is not out of place. However, the surrounding houses are dense and include three-story buildings, and a courtyard-style house on the ground level, as the theory goes, would be overlooked by the neighbors, and the courtyard would be in full view. To avoid this problem, high walls around the courtyard would have made the courtyard a dark and enclosed space.

Conversely, if we could place the courtyard as high as possible, slightly out of sight of the city, we would be able to create a refreshing house with a wide sky to enjoy. By having a courtyard on the third floor where one does not need to worry about neighbors’ houses, and by making the living room that faces the courtyard the main living space, it is possible to propose a lifestyle of living with the sky.

On the other hand, since a couple will be living in the house, a large floor space is not required. A three-story house might be too large, so we decided to eliminate the second floor of the house, leaving only the first and third floors. On the third floor, we placed a large space consisting of the living room and courtyard as the center of the life, and on the first floor, we placed smaller functional spaces such as bathroom, bedroom, and two work rooms to support the space on the third floor from below.

As a result, even though the first floor consists of small rooms, the ceiling became higher because of the absence of the second floor, almost double the normal height, and higher than the living room on the third floor, which is the main space of the house. The sun streaming on the first floor through the high windows provides good lighting, so two bright and comfortable workrooms could be located facing each other with a Japanese dogwood tree in the lower courtyard between them.

The relationship between ceiling height and the nature of the space is usually inverted with higher ceilings in the larger main living spaces and lower ceilings in the smaller functional spaces. However, we found this inversion of the relationship rather interesting and thought that this configuration, combined with the floating garden in the sky, could create a comfortable space to live in. We hope that we could have shown one possibility as an approach to urban courtyard-style houses in Tokyo that are always in close proximity to their neighbors.

site plan
  • Credits  Takuro Yamamoto Architects
  • Location  Tokyo
  • Use  independent residence
  • Site Area  169.78m2
  • Building Area  84.81m2
  • Total Floor Area  132.21m2
  • 1st Floor Area  74.09m2
  • 2nd Floor Area  0m2
  • 3rd Floor Area  58.12m2
  • Use District  type 1 restricted lower layer residential area
  • Lot Percentage  49.95%
  • Floor Space Ratio  77.87%
  • Completion  April 2023
  • Design Period  April 2021 – May 2022
  • Construction Period  May 2022 – April 2023
  • Structure  wooden rigid frame
  • Client  a married couple
  • Architect   Takuro Yamamoto Architects / Takuro Yamamoto, Tomoko Yanagi
  • Structure Design  NCN Corporation / Yuusuke Okamoto
  • Construction  REMOL DESIGN / Hiroyuki Watanabe, Syuhei Watanabe
  • Furniture  Tanaka Kogei / Toshiya Tanaka, Takeshi Minamizawa