A compact strip of land between a street and the ocean presented a design dilemma for Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects. The brief from their client was to create a weekend retreat where they could go to relax, unwind and enjoy the stunning views of Mount Fuji across the Sagami Bay in Kanagawa, Japan. The size of the site location was small and the architects could only design a small-scale residence that went up rather then out. They chose to design the home with a large window on both the front and back facades to allow as much sunlight to permeate the interior zones while at the same time allowing sight lines to continue to and through the building. The design is the reason for the cabin’s appropriate name of “Window House”.
When viewing the cabin from the waterfront it becomes apparent why the architects designed the building the way they did. The angled sides and large window glazings allow sight lines through the new residence ensuring that “Window House” does not block the waterside views and light requirements of its neighbours.
Window House is built on stilts or “piloti” that are embedded into a concrete block pushing into the narrow waterfront of the bay. This 23sqm plot is completely exposed to the surges of flood tides and it is for this reason it perches on the piloti, allowing water to pass under the cabin rather then into the cabin.
Access to Window House is via a cantilevered stairwell on one side of the building while access to the waterfront is via a second stairwell on the other side. The space created below the cabin creates the perfect parking spot for the homeowners and one guest.
On sunny days the homeowners do not have to travel down to the sandy beach to enjoy the views. The concrete platform under the house offers the perfect place to sit and dangle their legs and a light within the concrete platform ensures views are kept lit well into the evening.
Views to Mount Fuji are as easily enjoyed from every level within Window House so that on those days that the weather is not so nice, nature’s wrath can be enjoyed with a more sheltered and cozy “artistic” appreciation. This second floor of the cabin is where the kitchen and washroom are located and the long kitchen counter runs the length of the window, allowing the homeowner’s to enjoy the views while they prepare their meals.
The cabin is designed efficiently with only the necessary space allocated to sleeping. A ladder travels up from the kitchen level to and through a guest-sleeping platform while a short flight of stairs leads to the “Master Bedroom”.
The main floor is kept wide open to make the most of its small footprint. A ceiling pendant is located in such a way that a small folding table and chairs can be opened around it for a moment of fine dining. When dinner is over, the table and chairs can be folded out of the way to free up the multi purpose space.
Each level of Window House is accessed via steep stairs to make the most out of the tiny home. While the home is short on space, the location more then makes up for it. A short flight of stairs out to the concrete platform and the homeowners are completely surrounded by the wonders of Sagami Bay, and this after all, the reason for this weekend retreat.
Looking at the floor plan it is impressive to see what can be done with a little imagination.
It is also fascinating how easily Window House blends its minimalist facade with the more traditional setting that surrounds it.