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Moody Japanese house keeps things simple

Bunker-like on the outside, airy on the inside

Living room with slanted and exposed timber ceiling beams. Apollo Architects and Associates

Japanese firm Apollo Architects and Associates has a style. Its homes tend to be compact and bunker-like from the outside, but spacious and light on the inside. The studio’s latest design is no exception.

The Leaf House sits on a quiet street in Tokyo, where its facade is clad in steel and semi-opaque mirrored glass. Inside those moody walls is a quiet courtyard punctuated by another of the firm’s trademark moves: a single blooming tree.

Single tree in courtyard Apollo Architects and Associates
Courtyard with exposed wooden rafters Apollo Architects and Associates

The house centers around this courtyard, which is covered by exposed wooden rafters intended to evoke the veins of a leaf. All of the rooms face toward the courtyard with expansive walls of glass, making the single planted tree the center of attention.

The bedrooms occupy the bottom floor, where their sliding doors open to the courtyard. The top level is home to the kitchen, dining room, and living room. The design plays with light and dark, inside and outside—dark wood floors and gray walls are soaked in sunlight from the windows, while the same light-colored wooden rafters from the courtyard line the ceilings.

Bedroom door facing courtyard with tree. Apollo Architects and Associates
Front of house with no windows. Apollo Architects and Associates