FT Architects: 4 columns

For the three storey 4 columns house in Tokyo, FT Architetcs took inspiration from the Kura, traditional Japanese storehouses, in order to better organize the internal space and distribution.

FT Architects, 4 columns
The site is situated ten-odd minutes away from the city center and is close to a huge river.
Originally a farmland area, in recent years it has been rapidly changed to housing land, and numerous small-scale developments are built without any coordination. As a result, a miniature version of a suburban single-family house are spread all over, creating the typical scenery of a contemporary city, which is neither the city center nor the suburb.
FT Architects, 4 columns
FT Architects, 4 columns
The plot size doesn’t allow a garden. In order to have the largest floor plan possible under building regulations, the shape was automatically decided as a simple rectangular three storey high building. The timber structure allows to limit the construction costs. High quality resistance to fire and earthquake is required for a three storey high house in the city. Through ensuring the fire and earthquake resistance by the exterior wall, we managed to have a rich interior space.

The exterior wall of this house inevitably becomes thick with little openings like a Kura (Traditional Japanese house storage). We could say that this is the shape of the specification required for living in a contemporary city. In the early modern period of Japan, people lived in kuras called “Dwelling Kura”, for it’s high tolerance of fire and earthquakes. The townscape of Kawagoe and the Kashiwakura Family’s Kurazashiki in Yamagata are excellent examples of this dwellings that remain in our times.

The chunky form gives a unique presence in it’s surrounding and a beautiful tense space is wrapped inside, where the inner and outer space is connected through a small yet beautiful light. This house is a proposal for a “Kura-type” dwelling space in a profligate city of our times.

FT Architects, 4 columns
FT Architects, 4 columns
In order to achieve a generous but tense space, “Yotsudate”, which is an old structural frame typical to Koshu-region became our image source. 4 columns assembled like scaffolding, constitute the structural frame – it is said that this shape is the transitional form of the Japanese dwelling space from a pit dwelling to a medieval period dwelling. While it is a symbolic structure holding up the roof, it also becomes the clue for daily life through movable partition walls and the placement of the furniture.
FT Architects, 4 columns
FT Architects, 4 columns
The floor plan is simply organized by a 2,730mm square with 4 columns in the corner, placed in the center of the plan. From the form created by the square column space, a tense atmosphere like an Amida-temple (type of Buddhist temple) is produced. The column is constituted by four 75mm square timber bundled together. A gap is created in between the bundled timber where moveable partition walls or furniture could be attached, allowing it to be adaptable to different use. The structural frame lowers the height of the beam and the joist allowing each floor to have a larger volume.
The connection points of the vertical elements and the horizontal elements are all joined by bolts and screws giving the house an unfinished feeling. Because of the simple organization of this house, we repeated close investigation of the distance between the columns and the dimensions of each element, which are much smaller than the ordinary ones. The point of balance between unfinished and the neatness of not being too rough was carefully decided with the client and the contractor during construction.

4 columns, Tokyo, Japan
Program: single family house
Architect: Katsuya Fukushima, Hiroko Tominaga / FT Architects
Structure: wood
Floor area : 101.19 sqm
Completion: 2015

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