Eliminating the Boundaries Between the Interior and the Exterior

architect Jun Igarashi
project House of Density, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan

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The plot is narrow and the miniature format of the building was a challenge. This complex consists of thirty-two tiny rooms, each at least 3 tatamis wide, and a small veranda. The number of the rooms and their difference in size create a feeling of wandering around an enormous castle. Interior and exterior intertwine as the result of the relation among specific volumes and openings of different dimensions, which provides real and psychological connection among the rooms. The openings also communicate with the environment through their size and position; the bigger ones enable the communication among the tenants, and the smaller openings, on the outer envelope of the house, ensure their privacy.


The distance among the rooms develops a specific relationship with the outer area and creates different points of interaction. The structure which consists of the small playful volumes of a carefully organised plan provides security and connection.


The three-storey house is made of wood. The outer wall is lined in high-strength corrugated metal plates. Due to the cold region of Hokkaido, the house is exceptionally insulated. In order to improve energy efficiency, multi-storey interspaces were designed, which control the circulation of air with windows situated on the opposite sides.


Although the plot is narrow, its spatial plan and the treatment of the façade and interspaces provided privacy without losing comfort. The aim was to achieve a plan which would establish spiritual, rather than physical connection of the tenants, and raise environmental awareness. Since moving in, the client has actively been enjoying the external space. Although it is small and the result of the interaction of spatial volumes, it is very functional and filled with numerous plants planted by the owners. The gap between the internal and external space has thus decreased.


This is how a new way of life in a small area has been created.