FujiwaraMuro’s house in Hakusan hides a very wide staircase behind a blank white façade.
In Hakusan, Japanese practice FujiwaraMuro has built a single-family home whose blank white façade conceals a novel interior organisation of space. The architects began by reflecting on the unexpected flexibility of room sizes, and how their fluctuations generate new possibilities of living and interacting in a domestic environment. The doma, for example, is a traditional Japanese earthen-floor space that works as a thickened entrance. In order to generate their design, the studio contemplated how much tolerance the occupants might have for unusual proportions and scales of the rooms and architectural components of the house.
According to the architects, the client “was interested in a split-level home, and wanted a house where the family would be able to circulate through the space in three dimensions”; they also emphasised their attention to pleasant air flow and thermal conditions related to sun exposure. FujiwaraMuro’s response was to build a very wide staircase at the centre of the house, aligned to the flow of air over the site. This stair is “not just a passageway for moving up and down” but a real space to meet, linger, and maintain visual contact throughout the house. At the final ascent of the stairs, they incorporate an inbuilt table to enable eating meals in comfort.
More private domestic programs are tucked into the spaces above and beneath the staircase. The childrens’ beds and desks are placed on the second floor, while the first floor contains the parents’ bedroom and a tatami (straw-mat) room. Finally, the architects incorporated a doma on the ground floor, giving space for bicycles and a motorcycle to be parked.
The facade involves only minimal apertures, but they are sited to introduce light on the lower floor, so that it reflects and diffuses into the entire space. According to the clients, “there are times when we just hang out on the staircase. Looking down from the staircase when the front windows are open gives us a nice view of the garden.”
FujiwaraMuro Architects: House in Hakusan
Architects: Fujiwarramuro Architects (Shintaro Fujiwara, Yoshio Muro)
Location: Hakusan, Ishikawa, Giappone
Program: casa unifamiliare
Site area: 82,22 mq
Built area: 46,32 mq