AR Awards for Emerging Architecture

Highly commended


Two houses

Hokkaido, Japan

December 2006
Once again, Sou Fujimoto has succeeded where so many other architects fail; namely in carrying off apparently simple solutions with unswerving directness, commitment and exquisite mastery. His responses are almost elementary. Working with basic building blocks cubic forms, pitched roofs, vertical walls and orthogonal apertures he produces compositions and spatial sequences that have a remarkable and surprising sculptural range, and this pair of conjoined houses is no exception.
Each house has two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen/dining/living room. Arranged as a linear sequence, the houses occupy a seven pitch volume which, when seen from a distance, appears to form a terrace of seven small sheds. Internally, however, the spatial division does not follow the order of the roof, but instead relates to the spatial requirements of each of the 10 main rooms. As a result, with the pitches fully exposed, single, double and even triple pitch spaces are produced, and occasionally walls do not even coincide with ridge or valley, but break the module to interrupt the ceiling's pitch.
The cumulative effect of the rising and falling section gives each space its own unique scale and proportion, with an eccentricity that is at its most exaggerated in the relatively low valleys hanging independently in the middle of a room.
Within such a strong formal setting the architect has wisely reduced the palette of materials and the articulation of the detail to the barest minimum, with timber floors and seamless featureless white walls throughout. Externally eaves and verges have been clipped and the timber skin is simply whitewashed.
The planning not only produces a delightful sequence of space, and creates a unique figure in the landscape, but it also exhibits an efficiency that is typical of the best of Japanese architecture. When taken as a whole, this four bedroom, two reception room development has a total floor area of just 102sqm. R. G.

Sou Fujimoto Architects, Tokyo
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