Kenta Eto completes house with sliced-away corner in Japan


The corner appears to have been chopped off this house in Japanese city Oita, revealing a tree growing behind the building's walls (+ slideshow).

Designed by locally based architect Kenta Eto, OJI House is a two-storey residence at the junction between two roads, located in a residential neighbourhood outside the city centre.

Eto wanted to give the clients a generous amount of secluded outdoor space, so used approximately a quarter of the site area to create a walled garden.

By matching the height of the wall to the rest of the building, it would have blocked off views to a row of Japanese Cherry Blossom trees nearby.

So the architect created a triangular cutaway at one corner, then positioned the living room on the first floor to exploit this view.

The cutaway also gives passersby a view of the tree growing inside the garden.

"Since cherry blossom trees line up at the boundary of the adjacent house, and the street on the east is about 80 centimetres lower, an opening is provided for the living room to enjoy the view of those cherry blossoms," Eto said.

"By doing so, this building – with an acutely cut-off expression – can still connect itself with the surrounding environment in a gentle manner, as the expression of the house changes when the trees move or grow," he added.

The building has a timber frame, but its walls are finished in simple render – grey for the exterior, white for interior surfaces. The cutaway is the only place where both tones can be seen together, meaning this feature stands out even more.

The entrance is one of very few openings in the building's exterior. It leads through to a central hallway, which is surrounded by three bedrooms and a more traditional Japanese tatami room.

A black steel staircase leads directly up into the living and dining room, which is an open-plan space but loosely divided into two zones.

Square windows puncture the walls, framing views of the courtyard and trees. Other details include wooden flooring, basic spotlights and a wall recess reminiscent of a fireplace.

Eto said the most important conditions were "openness, daylighting, natural ventilation and borrowed scenery".

"Our aim for the interior space was to create rich spaces through the borrowed scenery, with courtyard trees and cherry blossom trees viewed beneath the living room," he added.

Introverted houses continue to be popular in Japanese cities, where residents are often keen to optimise privacy.

Other recent examples include a house by Alts Design Office with a garden behind its entrance and a property by Suppose Design Office with both rooms and gardens sheltered beneath the roof.

Kenta Eto completed OJI House in May 2016. It has a total floor area of 105 square metres.

Photography is by Toshiyuki Yano.