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Narrow house lives large with soaring indoor garden

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When there’s no space for nature outside, bring it in

Narrow white house on small plot of land. Norihito Yamauchi

Constraints breed creativity, they say. And in the case of the Melt House in Osaka, Japan, that’s absolutely true. Built on a narrow plot measuring 18 feet wide, the house makes the most of its allotted land.

With little space leftover for outdoor living, Satoshi Saito from Japanese studio SAI decided to bring nature indoors with a double-height courtyard that acts as a “dry garden” with a tree and couch. The light-filled space is the centerpiece of the home. All paths lead to the dry garden in the railroad style house, and interior windows in the second-story rooms look out onto the tree too.

Tree growing inside of house with open living areas. Norihito Yamauchi

It’s a striking feature that’s as much about practicality as it is about aesthetics.

Saito explained, “By providing large openings and high-side lights, the plan is to take in plenty of natural light into the house and actively take in natural ventilation even though it is a long and narrow building.”

Room with wood floors, plain white walls, and a window overlooking open space below. Norihito Yamauchi
Father and child looking down on mother from second story window. Norihito Yamauchi
Wooden stairs leading to second story. Norihito Yamauchi