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Moriyama House
Tokio, Japan 2005


The vision of “house as city”—the formation of urbanity on the inside of a building—usually calls for spacious dimensions. But not the Moriyama House, which relates this concept to the Japanese tradition of the minimal apartment. Ten cuboids with different floor areas and heights are freely distributed across a stretch of land not much larger than the lots quartering a dense concentration of single-family housing nearby. The 6-centimeter-thick load-bearing walls, extremely thin even by Japanese standards, are reinforced with steel plates, thus making large window openings possible. In between, a landscape of paths, courts, and niches unfolds, cascading unhindered on all sides into the public alleys of the district. The boxes harbor five compact rental apartments, some stacked and each having 16–30 m2 of space, with respective gardens—plus the relocated apartment of the landlord, who can only access his scattered functional facilities, such as bath and kitchen, from the exterior. Landscape, city, and house become indistinguishable.


Angelika Fitz


Break in high-density housing development

Ryue Nishizawa





Foto: © Herr Mr. Moriyama, 2008

mori_01.jpg mori_02.jpg mori_03.jpg mori_04.jpg mori_05.jpg mori_06.jpg mori_07.jpg mori_08.jpg mori_09.jpg mori_10.jpg

Moriyama-San's Life in His House Tokio, November 2008


We are situated in a quiet suburb of Tokyo, apart from the vivid activity of the metropolis. A typical, densified suburban ensemble, as if time stood still. Right in the middle are cuboids, in disparate sizes, almost randomly and wildly positioned in the landscape. All around, everything is the same as always, evidently familiar to the people. So this conglomeration of blocks stands out all the more. Contrasting are the surrounding buildings, having long shown clear signs of time passing, where life has deeply left its mark. The white cuboid structure, on the other hand, appears reduced to its own idea. Yet upon closer scrutinization, it is the opposite— a residential complex that seems to be bringing the vital force of its residents directly to the surface. And set in the cuboids are oversized window openings, seemingly integrated without a concrete concept.


The “Moriyama House” is a housing complex comprising a concentration of ten cuboids of various sizes in the middle of a rectangular surface area. Some are single-story, some double-story, two triple-story, and some have a basement. Each of these boxes, each individual story, houses only one room, at most interrupted by wet rooms and storage areas. At first these “boxes” give an appearance of being wildly intermingled— but upon second glance the design of the gardens and interjacent pathways can be discerned. The relation of garden areas and buildings has been thought out in detail, as have the openings for the windows. On two sides the complex touches the street, the lot itself not being encircled by any fences or hedges. Interested parties can therefore enjoy free access. And those who indeed enter end up noticing that it is actually possible to share in the life of the residents, for nothing remains concealed.


The giant windows in each room expose the life of the residents. One could easily expect heavy curtains or blinds. But not here. For the buildings are carefully positioned so that the windows opposite are offset. Regardless of whether the neighbors next door have the windows wide open or not, they will not catch a glimpse of each other. Hence, life here takes its course with uncovered windows—with the result being that the gardens and the surrounding view are permanent elements in the individual living space.  ...


Souhei Imamura

Translation from German into English: Dawn Michelle d’Atri


for entire text see catalogue



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