by Jerry ElengicalMay 30, 2022
A dramatic exposed concrete frontage forms this inward-looking Japanese house, aptly named Sculpt. The house is the latest work in residential architecture domain by Hyōgo-based studio, Maniera Architects & Associates. The practice led by architects Kazuo Oe, Terumi Oe, and Taisuke Oe is a specialist in contemporary homes, where it has executed over 150 projects across suburban cities of Japan. Sculpt is located in a neighbourhood in Ashiya, Hyōgo, characterised by a heterogeneous nature of suburban architecture. The townscape constitutes modest, two-storey houses that pack contemporary facilities amid strict government regulations and limited plot sizes.
The sharp geometry of the structural skin and the sheer opacity of its surface draws one in, especially the lack of any apertures to allow a peek into the indoors. As per Maniera Architects & Associates, the surreal enclosed façade of the building was a result of an architectural intervention that considered accommodating a tree growing right outside the plot. The building thus featured no landscape or architectural elements at the entrance, but only a monolithic presence engulfing in its silence.
One enters into Sculpt through a wide black door fitted at the bottom of the slightly protruded section of the façade. Inside, streams of daylight pour into a cosy hall that encloses a small seating space and a stunning white staircase inspired by the architecture of revered Italian architect, Carlo Scarpa. The staircase design features a combination of sharp and curved elements cast in concrete. Maniera Architects & Associates mentions that the idea was to challenge the use of concrete - both in the façade, staircase and other elements of the house – to make complex three-dimensional shapes.
Treading the steps, one arrives at the first floor which is the home’s living quarter. The family’s drawing room and dining area are designed facing each other and separated by a linear passage which culminates into a glazed doorway. The spaces are laid around a grid of four concrete columns that create a cross-shaped layout. The second floor consists of the family’s private spaces including the master bedroom and a bathroom overlooking an intimate karesansui, or rock garden.
While a consideration to guard the owner's privacy speak volumes at the entrance, in the interiors, however, the architects have purposefully created open-ended spaces that are tied to the outdoors. The living quarter as well as the family's quiet territory on the second floor capture distant views of Mount Rokkō, while within the building itself, these are connected to small pockets of greenery carved on the site.
For the design team, a special space within Sculpt is a bar on the basement level. The space has a vintage appeal, a nod to the style of 1970s. From a counter made of oxidized copper, to walls clad in antique bricks, and furnishing which includes velvet curtains, dark mirrors, and a vintage car, it sportingly contrasts with the minimalist contemporary character of the area dotting the rest of the house.
Through a highly defined opaque façade to the free-flowing interior spaces, within Sculpt, curated channels of interaction with the outside world take centrestage. The choice of materiality too, comprising oak furniture, laminated surfaces, and stone-tiled flooring, goes well with the residential scheme.
Previously published Japanese houses on STIR include Tsuruoka House in Tokyo by Kiyoaki Takeda Architects, River Sea residence in Hyogo by Kawazoe Architects, Setoyama Villa in Shizuoka by Moriya and Partners, and Soil House in Fukushima by ADX.
Name of project: Sculpt
Location: Ashiya, Hyōgo
Client: Shunsei Fujimura
Architect: Kazuo Oe, Terumi Oe, Taisuke Oe