House NA, an architectural masterpiece in Tokyo, is the creation of renowned Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. This unique residential structure has a distinctive design that minimally uses walls and presents an appearance akin to scaffolding. Fujimoto’s design intention was to redefine traditional living spaces, creating an almost transparent structure that blurs the lines between interior and exterior. Its multiple levels of open platforms offer diverse spatial experiences, challenging conventional notions of privacy and embracing the concept of living within a tree. Despite its delicate, light-filled aesthetic, House NA is a testament to innovative structural engineering and Fujimoto’s vision of the future of housing.
Sou Fujimoto House Na Technical Information
- Architects: Sou Fujimoto Architects
- Location: Tokyo, Japan
- Typology: Residential / House
- Material: Glass, Steel
- Area: 592.0 sqm
- Project Year: 2010
- Photographs: © Iwan Baan
The white steel-frame structure itself shares no resemblance to a tree. Yet the life lived and the moments experienced in this space is a contemporary adaptation of the richness once experienced by the ancient predecessors from the time when they inhabited trees. Such is an existence between city, architecture, furniture and the body, and is equally between nature and artificiality.– Sou Fujimoto1
House Na Photographs
Text by the Architects
Designed for a young couple in a quiet Tokyo neighborhood, the 914-square-foot transparent house contrasts the typical concrete block walls seen in most of Japan’s dense residential areas. Associated with the concept of living within a tree, the spacious interior is comprised of 21 individual floor plates, all situated at various heights, that satisfy the client’s desire to live as nomads within their own home.
Described as “a unity of separation and coherence,” the house acts as both a single room and a collection of rooms. The loosely defined program and the individual floor plates create a setting for various activities that can take place at different scales. The house provides spaces of intimacy if two individuals choose to be close while also accommodating a group of guests by distributing people across the house.
Sou Fujimoto states, “The intriguing point of a tree is that these places are not hermetically isolated but are connected in their unique relativity. To hear one’s voice from across and above, hopping over to another branch, a discussion taking place across branches by members from separate branches. These are some of the moments of richness encountered through such spatially dense living.”
Ranging in size from 21 to 81 square feet, each floor plate is linked by various stairs and ladders, including short runs of fixed and movable steps. Stratifying floor plates in a furniture-like scale allows the structure to serve many functions, such as providing for circulation, seating, and working spaces.
The short spans allow for the thinness of the white steel frame. Complemented by the thin white-tinted birch flooring, many wonders where the utilities are hidden. Some floor plates are equipped with in-floor heating to help during the winter months, while strategically placed fenestration maximizes airflow and provides the only ventilation and cooling source during summer.
The HVAC and plumbing equipment and storage and lateral bracing are located in the thick, north-facing wall at the rear of the house. A full-height bookshelf provides additional lateral bracing and lightweight concrete panels integrated within the side elevations.
Additionally, curtains were installed to provide temporary partitions that address privacy and separation concerns.
About Sou Fujimoto
Sou Fujimoto is a Japanese architect. Born in Hokkaido in 1971, he graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1994 and established his own office, Sou Fujimoto Architects, in 2000. Noted for delicate light structures and permeable enclosures, Fujimoto designed several houses and, in 2013, was selected to design the temporary Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London.
In 2008, he published a book called Sou Fujimoto: Primitive Future that contains an overview of his projects up to that date, and it explains his concept of a primitive future and how he uses it in his work.
Some of his most famous works include the Musashino Art University Museum and Library in Tokyo, the House of Music in Hungary, and House N.