‘House at the Mountain’ by Miurashin Architect + Associates
Tokyo-based practice Miurashin Architect + Associates has sent us images of ‘House at the Mountain’, a multi-storey dwelling set on a hillside in Karuizawa, Japan. Heavily influenced by the lush scenery and presence of trees, the design aims to establish a sense of balance on the steep site by orienting the interior with a mixture of vertical posts and windows.
Geometric in form, the dark-stained house is described and revealed in volumes: from the upper road level, a small bridge leads to the top storey of the dwelling which conceals itself as a pavilion-like structure among the trees. The design lengthens as the land lowers and again terminates with a small footprint to lightly rest on the topography. lLarge windows facing southwards establish views of the trees from the crown to their base.
Conceived as an abstraction of the forest itself, the interior is finished with exposed framework which wraps around the walls and ceiling. The communal programs are linearly arranged on the middle floor and benefit from the natural sunlight gained through the floor to ceiling windows. Establishing a sense of connection between the inhabitants and the forest, the gradually widening floor shape projects the interior outwards. On the roof level, a generous outdoor space is generated through a series of tiered stages.
The following is some further information from the designers:
‘The site is located in a region of Karuizawa once marked off for development but now abandoned. A national forest borders the property, which means it is unlikely to be hemmed in by neighbors in the near future.
When I first visited the site, the steep vertical drop from the upper road to the rest of the property surprised me, but the crown of trees reminded me of the waves of the sea, and I imaged a houseboat floating beside an ocean of trees in summer, and in winter, a little lodge crouching in the snow. Standing at the site made me lose my sense of balance, but the trees taught me how to retain my posture.
Inside the house, the rooms are defined by a series of posts that extend up the walls and across the ceiling to form a boxy framework that is an abstraction of the forest itself. At the same time, the three-dimensional sensation created by the receeding forms actively orients residents within the space.
As visitors look out the windows, their gaze gradually falls from the crown of the trees down to their base, and soon enough, they will feel the outside world is within palm of their hand. Standing before the window, our impression of the exterior is at once weak and strong: We both face the mountain courageously and are swallowed up by it.’
Photos: Daichi Ano