T-House, Tokyo, Japan
M2-Nakatsuji Architect Atelier

"Domestic Laws"

In the high-density city of Japan, there are innumerable laws and regulations which determine the high standards for the buildings to endure disasters, such as an earthquake or fire. The town Koishikawa, where T-house is built, spreads out from the Edo era past of the 1600s towards the centre of Tokyo. As a result, most of these laws are applied to even a small house in this area. Though we are restricted to choosing the finishing materials by the laws - particularly regarding the outer wall and the internal wall and ceiling - we strived to give this wooden three storey house a feeling of opening, the expansion of space, the earthquake resistance and the fireproof.

"Condition of the Site"

The width of the road where the site contacts is 2.3m - too narrow for heavy industrial machinery to go through. So, the T-House was designed using the Japanese general method of human powered construction from the offset. In other words, we disregarded the heavy steel frames and adopted shorter and lighter woods as the structural materials. To clarify the composition of the inside we designed it without showing the quantity of materials and complexity of the structure.

"Method of the design."

The frontage of T-House has only 3.56m of width. Without devising a scheme for looking wider than the real spaces, we put in three pieces of wall along the long side and divided the short side into four parts. Then we dug out the walls and inserted the boxes and the plates which would become the rooms. Their beams were held down to the minimum height. At this stage, four effects occurred. One was the flexibility of the plan that the size and the position of them could be easily adjusted. The other was the voids at the level difference through which all the habitants would get the sunlight and the wind. The third is the feeling of three-dimensional continuation through these voids.

Finally, it is the depth of the short-side direction that the gaps and the layers of the walls emphasised.

Date of completion: March 2012 Structural Engineer: Kentaro Nagasaka Above ground 3 storeys Structural system: Wood frame Site area: 62.55 m2, Built area: 35.63 m2, Total floor area: 104.84 m2.

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