Co.Design

For The Bearded Modernist, A Barn Stacked Atop A Glass House

Tato Architects created the design to defer to its environs and shield the occupants from neighbors.

I would love someday to face the dilemma that clearly confronted the owner of this extraordinary house in southern Japan: Let’s see here. I can’t decide between a barn and a glass house so, screw it, let’s do both! Ah, rich-people problems.

The 1,000-square-foot house is the handiwork of You Shimada of Kobe-based Tato Architects, and the real story of why it looks the way is does is this: Shimada wanted to design a house that wouldn’t overpower the spectacular surroundings, in a residential area halfway up Mount Rokko, in Hyogo Prefecture. At the same time, he didn’t want to leave his client totally exposed to nosy neighbors.

His solution: Wrap the first story in floor-to-ceiling glass "so that the fine view could be commanded to [its] full extent." Then for all the ugly, messy facets of daily life—sleeping, showering, and a whole bunch of other things I’d rather not mention—Shimada designed an oversized metal barn and plunked it down on top of the glass house. It’s the pastoral and modernist fantasies rolled into one.

[Images courtesy of Tato Architects; h/t Dezeen]

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5 Comments

  • Mgelbwaks

    Darn, I saw the headline and thought "Great, a place to put my chickens in my urban pied a terre!", mais non :-(

  • Linda

    I hope this barren house and lot will be landscaped both inside and outside. Otherwise it will be an unusable cerebral exercise in design.

  • gar

    cool looking but other than the points from the other posters, how does one hide from unwanted visitors. Japanese people are very polite, no? So, they can't say they don't want visitors, or will most Japanese peeps not be annoying and stop by unannounced.

  • randcraw

    How do you hide the heating ducts, pipes, and
    wiring that lead to the bathroom (and kitchen?) on the second floor? 
    What about air flow?   Cross ventilation?  Escape from direct sunlight?  This looks more like a promotional stunt than a viable home design.

    Imagine the glass unit on top instead.  It would afford more privacy and a better view.  It would allow more interesting variations of roof design or sunlight interplay.  If the roof were flat and broad, it would provide much needed shade for the glass room below.  Otherwise direct sunlight will make much of the glass unit uninhabitable, not to mention bleaching all exposed materials within.  If the roof were peaked or angled, the glass room could soar overhead and allow heat to be vented.

    I love glass houses, but I wouldn't buy this one.

  • Larw18

    I'm a CoDESIGN fan who objects to your sentence closing the first paragraph.  "Ah - rich people problems."   It is both dismissive and disrespectful and I believe completely undermines the whole point of this house design.  It's a very North-American comment applied to a country with very different social norms and values.  A very cursory look at all the photos will tell you that this is a very utilitarian design and a very small floorplate, typical for most Japanese houses.  There is nothing fancy or rich here, except the imagination.  And that's the whole point which your comment totally negates.

    Nevertheless, thanks for showing us an imaginative way to do simple.