What is the House N?
The choice of location for the ‘House N’ project is quite symbolic as it sits at the center of an area which is practically dominated by 2-storey, pitched tiles roof, timber huts. To passers-by and everyone who sees it, the question is ‘who lives there?’. The answer to that question is simple – everyone. According to the words of the designer, the house will be forever young since that is how it looks. The structural design engineer, Sou Fujimoto thought out the project when a couple asked him to recreate their home the simplest way he could. A bit of an elderly couple, having lived in their current house for over 30 years, the designer took this as an opportunity to use simple forms as the answer to modern but complex needs.
Collaboration with Ryue Nishizawa
A white house in its own right, the House N is just one among many projects that point to a type of modern expression in a completely new direction. Formerly keen on embracing indigenous housing designs as part of his art, Fujimoto created House N with inspiration from a friend, Ryue Nishizawa1. While Nishizawa uses space as an open canvas, Fujimoto creates an inverse impression.
The location of the house
If you are wondering why the house is not on a site of its own, then you must be unfamiliar with the strict plot ratio guidelines in Japan. To keep in line with regulations, the roof plan on House N was measured to keep it below the 75 percent maximum. The structure of pure white standing along a street where the rest of the buildings are rugged and blunt, it must create quite an interest.
Sou Fujimoto about House N
“A distinct boundary is nowhere to be found, except for a gradual change in the domain. One might say that an ideal architecture is an outdoor space that feels like the indoors and an indoor space that feels like the outdoors. In a nested structure, the inside is invariably the outside, and vice versa. My intention was to make an architecture that is not about space nor about form, but simply about expressing the riches of what are `between` houses and streets.”
A hybrid of boxes
To stay away from the idea of having the house as a stand-alone project, Fujimoto made it a hybrid of boxes. The three boxes are in series and the symbolism is simple; domestic, interior and enclosure realms. The outermost box occupies the site and from the outside, could be taken to the only structure. Well, it does have apertures but without glazed windows. Notice that it has two floors? The second box seems to have been hand placed by hand within the first but it has glazed apertures. Further inside is the third box which is designed to offer a domestic experience to visitors. Timber is the main material in this level but rendering was done using rough material.
- Site area: 236.57㎡
- Built area: 150.57㎡
- Total floor area: 85.51㎡
Video: House N by Sou Fujimoto
House N is the perfect example of harmony between the inside and outside. Although there are no clear boundaries to show where each level ends or starts, nature is allowed inside anytime.
Photos: Outside of House N
Photos: Inside of House N
Plans & elevations
All images: Iwan Baan/iwan.com & Sou Fujimoto Architects/sou-fujimoto.net unless otherwise noted.
Other important works
- Sou Fujimoto’s cloud-like Serpentine Pavilion: What makes it special?
- The extraordinary Moriyama House – By SANAA’s Ryue Nishizawa