Horizontal House

Horizontal House in Shiga, Japan by EASTERN design office

Text and images are courtesy Anna Nakamura + Taiyo Jinno of EASTERN design office. See also coverage elsewhere of other recently completed projects: Slit Court, Slit House, and MON Factory/House.

This house [completed 2007] does not look like a house. The shape of the house traces the boundary of the village, which consists of six houses in all. There is a position to observe the village from afar. Our intention is to form scenery from there, to create a shape that naturally extends the stone wall of old times. The horizontal slit carved there. It becomes familiar within the scenery of the village.

When you enter the house, you will be surprised at the sequence of views that the slits cut out and the spaciousness there. Because of the horizontal slits surrounding the whole house there is scenery wherever you look. The village in the deep place is seen in the slit in the north. Sequence of the mountain continues far away. The river is seen in the slit in the east. Children bubble over to catching sweetfish there. Tsukiaimichi (a communal alley) can be seen through the slit in the shoji in the south. The shrine where the forest and this village are defended is seen in the slit in the west.

There is the one Tsukiaimichi. Though the road belongs to somebody of the village, everyone in the village may freely pass through. Someone in the village strolls his dogs on Tsukiaimichi, they stand chatting and he takes a shortcut. The client gives importance to the Tsukiaimichi. She wishes to defend the privacy without closing the view to outside.

The stone wall is extended. Thus the retaining wall is made. It forms Tsukiaimichi surrounding the site at the position without a feeling of pressure. Tsukiaimichi goes up to the courtyard through the retaining wall where the width is narrowed once. The retaining wall lowers gradually and disappears into ground; the view opens. But the stone wall 170cm (5-1/2 feet) high obstructs the view into the house from passersby. And the stone wall of 120cm (4 feet) high appears; here is the entrance. The shoji where the slit was put so as not to see the inside faces the courtyard. These become like "Invisible Layers" between Tsukiaimichi and the life scene, creating an ambiguous boundary.