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The ground floor of this Japanese home is a public library

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Neighbors welcome

Man browsing bookshelves. A concrete bench takes up much of the room. Hiroshi Kinoshita and Associates

It’s one thing to build a home that feels transparent and open to the neighborhood; it’s an entirely different matter to open up your house to whoever is passing by. This house in a small Japanese town takes neighborly goodwill to the extreme with a ground-floor library open to the public.

The owner of the simple concrete house enlisted Japanese studio Hiroshi Kinoshita and Associates to transform the street level of the house into a community amenity. A wall of sliding glass doors welcomes passersby into a gallery-like space. Bookshelves line the bright white walls and a smooth concrete bench curves into a reading circle.

Person sitting on concrete bench reading a book. Hiroshi Kinoshita and Associates

Toward the back of the library, a set of closed-off stairs leads to the second floor, where the private spaces are equally restrained. The expansive main living area features poured concrete floors, a raw concrete ceiling, white walls, and the necessities—a couch tucked into a corner, a dining table, a few cabinets, and a simple kitchen setup. It’s bright, quiet, and another good spot to dive into a book.

View of doorway leading to upstairs. Hiroshi Kinoshita and Associates
A staircase leads to an open-plan living room with concrete floors and ceiling. Hiroshi Kinoshita and Associates
Exterior of a building with large windows on the ground floor. Hiroshi Kinoshita and Associates