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... Off the wall: described as a hill on a house, this home is more than a little.

Despite its distance from the city, Mount Fuji dominates Tokyo's horizon, both in the mind's-eye of its inhabitants and with its physical presence when visible on a clear day. Fittingly, when designing this modest house on a typically cramped Tokyo site, the architect chose to create Fuji in microcosm: an unreachable subject of contemplation. As such this house focuses on a white hill that cuts deep into the centre of the plan: a shapely mass that can be sensed in all the rooms, but never reached.

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This urban house is surrounded by tall buildings on three sides. To the east it faces a narrow street. The question of how to bring light inside while shutting out views inspired the architect to develop an abstract scenery within an enclosed manmade environment.

Around the perimeter, high concrete walls block views from neighbours. Within this a crater-like courtyard has been excavated, bound to the east by a large white inclined roof: an unblemished surface stretching to the eastern sky from eye level, reflecting light into adjacent spaces.

In plan the crater creates a triangular void that increases in size and eccentricity as it rises against the slanted perimeter walls. On the first floor, the living room occupies the space within the hill, rising 6.8 metres in height and extending from a dining space visible across the courtyard. On the upper levels, two bedrooms overlook the hill's west face.

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Moving through the spaces, the hill becomes the principal point of orientation as part of a-unique foreground scenery, the effect of which diminishes the impact of any glimpses to apparently distant neighbouring buildings when seen against the building's crooked horizon. Remarkably this spacious home is only 78sqm. R. G.

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Article Details
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Author:Gregory, Rob
Publication:The Architectural Review
Date:Dec 1, 2006
Words:305
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