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Modern house inspired by forest clearings rises in Tokyo

The architects aimed to create a secluded home without rejecting the surrounding city

The Japanese design firm Frontoffice got philosophical when designing this private family home in Tokyo. They likened the project to "a clearing in the midst of a forest"—a home with lots of privacy due to the surrounding buildings, but also one that offers the feeling of open space. Called "Oyamadai House," the goal was to strike the perfect balance between the two, says Designboom.

Frontoffice was working with what they called "a flag-shaped site, bound on every side by neighbors." Luckily, those surrounding buildings were mostly windowless facades, meaning that the house could be open and decked out with windows without compromising the family’s privacy. The family, according to Frontoffice, saw "a chance to be as open as possible, using the small degree of isolation as a chance to connect to the city from a slight remove."

The home boasts full-length windows on all four sides to allow plenty of light to stream inside. To protect against earthquakes, two x-shaped columns were placed on the ground floor to stabilize the house against any movement. Frontoffice compared them to flying buttresses, saying, "these work as structure without interfering with the desire for openness."

That feeling of open space carries into the interior, too. Both levels of the home are treated as two separate rooms, not broken up by interior walls. The ground floor was designed with concrete and wood, with large wooden sliding doors utilized to create flexible space. (Both the master and guest bedroom, on the ground floor, can be opened up to make one cohesive space.) Frontoffice also hid away private rooms, like the bathroom and a closet, by placing them in standalone boxes that hang from the ceiling.

An open, wood staircase leads you to the second floor, which holds the kitchen and living room and is also surrounded in glass. Once you emerge from the staircase, a triangular railing provides a dramatic interior detail while also reducing any separation within the room.

The wood floor extends into a deck on either side of the home. And from the living room, steps leads up to the roof deck, which peeks out above the trees.