Takanawa House @ Tokyo, Japan

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Smartly shaped concrete cantilevers are reaching towards each other in the stairwell of this Japanese masterpiece.From the outside Takanawa House in Tokyo looks like a concrete cube with very few random openings and a covered terrace. But this is not the first time we see a house in Japan that offers a lot more to talk about inside, no matter how strict the outside appears to be.

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Sometimes a house is like a cake that has a simple vanilla icing on the outside, but once you cut into it, all kinds of colors and layers show themselves. This is quite how Hiroyuki Ito, the architect of O.F.D.A. Associates cut the solid concrete cube in half, and placed a glazed stairway between the two sides. A stairway that features the same raw concrete wall finish as the exterior facades, creating a rather symbolic in-between space within the house.

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The house has four bedrooms on the second floor – one of them is suspended above the staircase. With the same raw concrete walls and the linear skylight gap in the roof it almost feels like a dungeon where pretty princesses of the modern age are locked up.

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Space over room: altough there is no lack of closed living space in this house, the architect did not forget to pull out generous chunks of the interior, and turn them into semi-exterior spaces. The full height courtyards are not visible from the outside though, as they are all surrounded by tall walls. They offer natural light to the rooms through the windows cut in the inside-outside walls. Okay, this Japanese inside-outside game is quite confusing sometimes, but I hope you can still follow me.

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The concrete walls feature a textured finish that shows the markings of its wooden formwork.

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It’s not without precedent in Japanese architecture that a house is so introvert. Takanawa House has small and modest openings towards the street and the neighbors, and very generous ones toward the inner courtyards and the other living spaces. The distribution of light is very well thought through, using every opportunity to let in natural light without having to let in the prying eyes of the neighbors.

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The interior is simple and warm with white walls, wooden surfaces and of course a hint of concrete here and there.

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All photographs by Daici Ano.

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