House in Mt. Fuji is a vacation house in the northern foothills of Mt. Fuji, 1200m above sea level. The site, molded by bulk sediments of black lava sands and pebbles a couple of century ago, undulates to a great extent in the east-west direction, inclining gently with a mean gradient of approximately 1/10 from southwest to northeast. Because of the National Park Law, construction activities are strictly restricted; for example, buildings should be placed without cutting old large trees. There was only a narrow spot remained along a concaved terrain, which was limitedly open to the sky. Watching the site in whole seasons, I found the color of summer was black. It was almost dark because of the deep shadow under the luxuriant foliage. Intuitively, I thought the building should be lost in the shadow.
The building is automatically delineates 5 meter wide and 24 meter long on the ground allocated to the empty plot in the site. In the process of considering its shape; first of all, I felt the exterior should look rather smaller to the public. I believed that artifices should be modestly situated in nature except the austere but the last dignity of facade. After struggling to scrape it out by the least handling, I reached to find a diagonal wall for dividing the whole into two realms, by which I had a chance both to make it transformed for exterior shape, and to make one feel a longer distance for interior space. On the exterior in particular, along the diagonal wall, I fixed the sloping roof in accordance with the gradient of the terrain silhouette viewed from the public road, which was effective for adjusting the building scale onto the landscape.
The larger volume on the southeast garden contains a double height tall living and a double deck row of dining, kitchen, and a loft above. The ceiling height of the living gradually becomes lower from 5.3m (max.) to 3.8m (min.) towards entrance in accordance with the sloping roof. Dining and kitchen are designed as a compressed space with 2.0m ceiling height for concentration on dishes as well as appreciating a horizontal view through the ribbon window. The entrance is enough dark to appreciate the skylight down on the living far beyond. From entrance towards living, one goes through a tall and narrow, but dim space; then, gradually reaches the taller, broader and lighter space along the diagonal wall.
The smaller volume on the northeast contains a hall connecting to bedrooms stacked one to the other, and a bathroom is stood out due to the possible humidity from water sections. When the living quarter is the space for the daylight till noon, here in the hall represents the space of the latter half of a day. The end narrow portion has a small square window beneath the ceiling, from which the afternoon sunlight pierces on the opposite white wall to turn the color of space into orange.
The structure consists of wood frames. The diagonal wall is effective against horizontal loads because of its folded figure. The small box for the bathroom structurally assists the slender body beside. The outer wall is made of Japanese cedar stained in black, the color of lava, for the memory of the site. In the landscape between leaves top and turfs bottom, the building stands like a ground upheaval of the site, where the black lava has slept since the ancient times. It also provides a dark band between the greens, where the house in black represents a shadow in the forest.
Text by Satoshi Okada