FLOORS BECOME TABLES IN A SINGLE ROOM JAPANESE HOME BY TATO ARCHITECTS

The Miyamoto House transforms a large volume into a single room over varied levels for a versatile space to customize

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Shinkenchiku Sha

Design development in Japanese homes in the last decades has produced new and innovative models for living. Reduced area in the Nipponese metropoli combined with a sensibility for domestic cultural spaces have marked the poetic composite that distinguishes a new generation of designers.

An example of this new approach can be found in the architecture of Tato Architects, the studio guided by 45 year old Yo Shimada. In Japanese, the studio’s name means “out”, a choice that fits Shimada’s unusual professional training as well as her outside the box thinking. It’s a particular attribute which has led to a history of surpassing limits and creating truly unique solutions.

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View of the east-facing façade.
Shinkenchiku Sha
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Living area with a view of the kitchen
Shinkenchiku Sha

The latest project to come out of Tato Architects is the Miyamoto House in Osaka. For this Japanese home — designed for a family of three — Shimada was presented with two requirements: a space where the family can feel near regardless of where they are, and the freedom for objects to not be tethered by standard organization. The result is a completely exposed home with architecture revealing everyday life over 94 square meters.

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The 5th level as seen from the dining area
Shinkenchiku Sha
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Perspective view
Tato Architects / Yo Shimada

With these two rules in mind, Yo Shimada developed a single space within a parallelepiped measuring 4.5 x 11m. Capable of bringing together both people and areas, private rooms are no longer necessary (individual space is philosophically enclosed within the person) and the division of functional spaces is entrusted to the stacking of suspended floors at different heights.

Taking full advantage of the volume’s height at 7 meters, the Miyamoto House is broken down in a double spiral of white, triangular surface and steel squares. Interconnected through a modular system of steps in iron and wood, there are a total of 13 levels: 7 above, anchored by iron bars connected to beams in the ceiling, and 6 below, supported by steel tubes.

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Left: view from the dining area to the living area. Right: 6th level bedroom
Shinkenchiku Sha

All levels are spaced 0.70 meters from one another, with the square living area acting as the central pivot where the two spirals meet, 2.8 meters from the ground. From the bedroom to the dining area, the living area, and the bathroom, a vertical vision of floors is uninterrupted by barriers or obstacles. The spatial sequence is purposely versatile to adapt to the lifestyle of inhabitants.

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View of level 6 from the living area. Below, the kitchen and dining area
Shinkenchiku Sha

Numerous references to Japanese architecture lay hidden in the Miyamoto House: the poetry of emptiness and silence of the Imperial Villa of Katsura, the visionary metabolic momentum of the Capsule Tower by Kisho Kurokawa, and the poignant deconstruction/multiplication of the Morimaya House by Sanaa or House N by Suo Foujimoto.

Yo Shimada, however, adds a special touch. The home considers not only people, but also things as living companions. After years of minimalism and limiting material clutter, a trend which Japan has fully embraced, it seems there’s a return to revealing what we hide in our home. After all, isn’t it the things we keep that make the home?

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View from level 1 and 2 of the bedroom
Shinkenchiku Sha

In the Miyamoto House, levels are more than simple floors to rest on. The floors represent spaces to rest objects, tables to exhibit collections, seats on which to stop and tell a story — it’s macro-architecture serving micro-architecture and the uncontainable impulse to fill spaces with memories and comfort.

The Miyamoto House becomes an updated version of La casa della vita by Mario Praz, where “every room is always a visible presentation of things, a spectacle, not a neutral backdrop”.

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Layout of the bathroom by the owners
Shinkenchiku Sha
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Left: level 4 as seen from the kitchen. Right: the living area seen from the bedroom, laid out by the owners
Shinkenchiku Sha
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View of level 5 from the dining area, laid out by the owners
Shinkenchiku Sha

The clients of the Miyamoto House have lived for years in the same neighborhood before slowly moving into the new home. After officially transferring, Shimada says the things, the architecture, and the people all start to become a single ensemble. A rich scenery showcasing their lifestyle and expanding as if it were a living entity. This is a house without limits.

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Entrance view, laid out by the owners
Shinkenchiku Sha


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