Every kid dreams about living in a treehouse. Then you grow up, get practical, and exchange your arboreal fantasies for a practical house with a practical basement and a practical two-car garage. At least you’re supposed to. Except, well, let’s just say that it isn’t uncommon for parents to have more fun at Tarzan’s Treehouse than children. Which makes the Toda House in Hiroshima so perfect: It feels like a treehouse, but it’s designed for oh-so-practical adults.
The house rises up on stilts, giving residents a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding neighborhood and the town and sea in the distance. There, way above street level, the living spaces wrap around a central atrium and spiral up toward the sky, a nearly continuous band of glass welcoming sunlight and uninterrupted panoramas indoors. Tokyo-based architects Kimihiko Okada liken it to a giant “bird’s nest.”
It seems like pure whimsy–the idea of a precocious, unusually tasteful little kid. Fact is, Kimihiko Okada designed the Toda House to address decisively grownup concerns: The clients wanted a place that could provide privacy, security, and room to expand should they decide to open a shop in the future. By perching the house on stilts, the architects were able to ensure all three: The elevation protects residents from both hazards on the street and neighbors’ prying eyes, and leaves ample space for an extension. As for that two-car garage: There’s plenty of room for a car under the stilts. See? Practical.SL