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Japanese home has a giant hole in the living room—by design

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An inventive renovation creates an unusual space to retreat

Father and child sitting on platform with feet dangling. Kenta Hasegawa

Under most circumstances, designing a house with a gaping hole in the ceiling is an objectively bad idea. Yet, that’s exactly what Murayama + Kato Architecture did with this house in Kodaira, Japan, and somehow it looks like a feature, not a flaw.

The Japanese studio wanted to breathe new life into a 20-year-old house by adding a truly novel design intervention under a pitched roof. A mezzanine level of sorts hovers just six feet from the ground floor and boasts a massive elliptical-shaped void that makes the platform look almost like a tiny, minimalist running track.

Woman walking up stairs to platform. Kenta Hasegawa

The mezzanine hovers above the open living room, kitchen, and dining area, and is just low enough that it can be used to store supplies or a plant; there’s also ample built-in shelving throughout the exposed timber walls.

By the kitchen, a set of stairs leads downstairs to more private quarters, while near the entrance, a set of floating white stairs leads up to the elliptical platform, where the owners can sit and dangle their feet over the edge or stand tall by the giant living room window.

Woman storing kitchen goods on top of platform. Kenta Hasegawa
Stairs leading to platform. Kenta Hasegawa