Shochikucho House is a minimal residence located in Kyoto, Japan, designed by Ryue Nishizawa. A new family home has been planned in the heart of a historical district in the city. The plot is a long, rectangular shape running east to west, with a width of 5.5m on the short end facing the west and a depth of about 25m. The land had formerly housed a traditional townhouse, reminiscent of Kyoto’s architectural style. In light of this, the architects began to envision a home inspired by the traditional townhouse. They decided to raise the volume of the building without any setback from the road, so that the facade would become a part of the road space. The size of the plan is almost as close to the maximum floor area ratio as possible, with the exception of a small garden plot in the back.

The structure consists of five rows of T-shaped structures arranged in the center to support the entire building. The large structural elements in the middle of the interior divide the space of the long, narrow building into two even narrower spaces to the north and south. The southern space is designated as a garden path leading to the back garden from the front road. This area is a semi-outdoor space that allows plenty of light and air, making it a place to come and go for people to water plants, park bicycles and cars, and generally gather. In contrast, the northern space is a raised, quiet and calm living room with a high floor. These two long, narrow spaces have several contrasts, such as the entrance and living room, lower and upper floors, garden and room, semi-outdoor and indoor, and wet and dry spaces.

The designers hope that these contrasts will be useful as the basic structure of contemporary life in Kyoto. When considering the building’s shape, the designers considered covering a flat roof with a traditional Kyoto townhouse-style roof, but ultimately opted for a simple rectangular shape with a flat roof. One reason for this decision was the need for high ceilings for ventilation due to pressure differences during the intermediate period and summer. Additionally, the building is located on a modern street with facades that are typically 10 meters tall, higher than the streetscape of wooden townhouses of the past. The designers aimed for a facade that would not feel out of place among the other buildings. The flat-roofed rectangle lacks eaves, but this design choice was made for a low profile that fits in with the surrounding structures.

Photography by Office of Ryue Nishizawa