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House in Ogikubo

House in Ogikubo

Ogikubo, Tokyo, Japan
2 family residence
198.47 sqm.
wooden construction
Satoshi Okada
project team
Isao Kato
Shunichi Kasajima
Katrin Oechslin
structural designer
Hirokazu Toki
general contractor
Fukazawa Construction Co.
photo credit:
Koichi Torimura (Nacasa & Partners)
House in Ogikubo House in Ogikubo

independence in dependence

The house is located in Ogikubo, one of the most highly congested districts with residences in Tokyo, where the urban fabric is rather chaotic with capillary alleys, a remainder of postwar conditions. The housing lots are naturally irregular and relatively small; therefore once outsiders get into the maze, they invariably lose their ways out from it.

The site of a flag shaped faces upon two streets; one is a narrow public road to the south, the other is a private path to the west, below which a tiny waterway runs even today. On the north, there is a neighbor’s garden with plenty of beautiful greens beyond a fence.

The client is of two families, two elders and their daughter’s family. They want to live together in two different houses in a single site. The way of living becomes popular in Japan today, mainly because the property is still expensive for the younger generation. For these years, I had thought that it is an interesting social phenomenon, and I finally reached a proposition, “independence in dependence,” after struggling to consider how I could reflect it on architecture.

In the design process, at first, I speculated that it was hard to realize two independent buildings in the site because its area is absolutely small. Accordingly and inevitably, architect is required to design a single building in which two families are independently dwelling with dependently in mind.

Intuitively, I draw a single folded line maybe affected by such chaotic surroundings. I made three portions irregularly shaped; one is open to the north, the other two are to the south. I felt the line must be a single one signifying the family bond. After several trials in arranging the shape with planning spaces required to each family, I finally attained the best composition as follows: The younger family is allotted to the biggest portion of three stories to the very west. The elder family is to other two portions of two stories. And I designed the dividing wall between these family tilted from the younger family realm onto the elder one.

In the younger family dwelling, the double height space for living makes one feel open upwards with the outwardly tilted wall. Behind the specific wall, the middle portion of elder family realm, the smallest in area, contains a bedroom on the ground floor and a tatami-mat room on the first floor. I intended to make the tatami-mat room, in particular, a kind of micro-cosmic place with dim, calm, and a feeling of compression by the inwardly titled wall.

Chinese character symbolizes humans with “人,” which signifies even though an independent person is depending and depended by another independent or others. It must be an essence of human society. It is what I would like to figure out in the piece of architecture under the conception, “independence in dependence.”


Text by Satoshi Okada

House in Ogikubo House in Ogikubo
House in Ogikubo House in Ogikubo House in Ogikubo House in Ogikubo