by Jincy IypeJul 14, 2021
Setoyama is a villa located along a long narrow plot along a cliff that leads to the river bed and overlooks the sea, in Shizuoka, Japan. This particular site consists of a thicket of trees on a hard volcanic plateau that was created by a 4,000-year-old eruption. Largely untouched, this ecosystem is a stable natural territory, which led to Japanese architect Takahiro Moriya's, named partner at Moriya and Partners, minimally intrusive intervention. This was underscored in the project statement that emphasised, “We sought to create a place where nature and function harmonise well. So, we try to avoid modifying the land itself or touching the boundaries of the forest. While building a certain distance from the natural territory, the villa lightly blends into the surrounding environment so that it would be buried in the forest.”
Creating a balance between nature and purpose, Moriya avoids modifying the land itself by building a certain distance from the natural territory and not touching the boundaries of the surrounding forest. From a distance, the villa appears to be buried in the forest because of its location and roofscape. At the same time, the villa opens up to the surrounding environment through terraces so that it blends the exteriority and interiority of the space. The environmental consciousness of the sustainable architecture.
The orientation of the plot offers a dynamic setting for the villa. With a river on the east and an access road on the west, the plot extends longitudinally from north to south. With access from its northernmost edge, a meandering pathway leads to the main house, which is situated approximately at the midpoint of this site. Designed as a triangular outline of the residential home, it sits in a very precocious location with its longer edge abutting the main road, the tip of the triangle hanging over a shallow cliff that slopes down towards the riverbed. The western edge of the house is largely solid and consists of utilities, such as storage, pantry and kitchen as well as a powder room and bathroom. This edge could also be considered as the hypotenuse of the triangular plan. The rest of the house projects out at a right angle with two facades facing South-East and North-East. In addition to creating the opportunity for numerous vistas looking out at the river, the plan also provides an opportunity for its occupants to experience the sunrise over the view of the river.
This addresses the client’s request for “a view of the sea from the living room". To frame the seascape as a view seen through the trees, the main living room is lifted off the ground and is projected over the cliffside. Since the building sits on a steep slope, the studio enveloped the entire living room floor under a wooden framed truss. This three-dimensional truss allows the upper floor to be completely cantilevered and creates a lower covered deck adjacent to the bedroom. This timber frame facilitates the vision of a buried villa through its external profile. Internally it creates a remarkable volume that constantly changes as one travels the length of the structure. The overall design of the house is rather simple but very intricately organised. To gain a more holistic understanding of the entire structure it needs to be looked at not only in plan and section but also as an axonometric study of its structural system.
The plan is organised along a right-angled triangle across two floors, both of which seem to be at ground level. The upper floor is on the ground level towards the western side of the site, with the living room and terrace. The lower level, which consists of a bedroom and another terrace space, is also on the ground level opening on the eastern side overlooking the river. The downstairs space is also designed to function as an environmental device to redirect the cool wind blowing from the river towards the upper floor. The design also proposes a wide variety of outdoor spaces; the landscape architecture makes use of the existing forest and the existing slope to create a park-like ambience.
Location: Shizuoka, Japan
Area: 101 square meters
Year of completion: 2020
Architect: Takahiro Moriya
Structural engineer: A.S.Associates Akira Suzuki
Contractor: Daido Kogyo Co.