A flowering tree 'Lilac' is 'Lila' in French, while its origin is said to be 'Nila' in Sanskrit. It blooms with fragrant, blue-violet neat flowers in spring. Since the name of the beauty salon operated by the mistress of this home is ‘Lilac’, which brings the feelings of classical French chansons, I decided the theme of designing her own house was ‘lilac’ too, laying blue-violet-colored tiles on its outer wall and the floor of 'patio', and planting a lilac tree in front of the entrance.

Isometic drawing

DATA ; Reinforced concrete building / Location : Yuhi-gaoka, Hiratsuka, Kanagawa prefecture / Design : Takeo Kamiya architect and associates, March - September 1989 / Structural design : Isamu Suga / Mechanical design : Hiroaki Higashi / Electrical design : Shoichi Yamazaki / Construction : Mabuchi construction, October 2000 - June 2001 / Site area : 220 square meters / Total floor area : 174 square meters / Prize : at Architectural Concours in Kanagawa / Photographs : Isao Imbe

Patio as seen from the roof       Living room


I was commissioned to have an old wooden house, near the seashore of Hiratsuka, rebuilt with reinforced concrete. The city of Hiratsuka maintains broad roads and supplies comfortable housing lands, much more spacious than those in Tokyo.
However, the given site for the new house was occupied by two wooden houses, the road-side one of which was not too old to be pulled down. As the interior one was to be rebuilt, the new house would be seen only through the approach passage cum parking lot for the two houses.

Therefore, the main designing focus was put on the relation between the interior spaces and the small garden (a kind of ‘Patio’) to be made at the southern tip of the site, rather than the external appearance of the house. I thought it would be an introverted house centripetal to a ‘patio’ like Islamic architecture.

Since the pulled down house had been set parallel with the road, in front of the main sliding glass doors of the living room had been the soaring two-storied back wall of a neighboring house. Moreover, the irregular shape of the site had made its own two-storied annex protruding to the southern garden disturb the sunshine and view.

Therefore, I set up a central axis from the center of the new house to the pointed end of the site, making the southern garden the longest depth, obtaining the best view and sunshine. The problem in this case was that the new house would not be parallel with the existing house on the road side, and not well adaptable to the borderlines of the neighboring houses’ sites, causing the planning to be difficult. On the other hand, a request of the owner to park two cars at the approach passage made the disposition of the new house further difficult.
There was still another question: the distance between the existing house on the road side and the new house. The nearer it is arranged, the worse the existing house would be in lighting and ventilation, and the more distant and smaller the garden of the new house would be.

To resolve all these problems in one stroke, a circular plan came to my mind. It would make possible to setting the central axis at any angle, even to the pointed end, almost due south, and well adaptable to the irregular site.
It naturally made the entrance go back, making two-car parking possible, and making the other corner a minimum service yard. As a result, the existing house would get morning and evening light and less of a sense of oppression than a parallel disposition. Furthermore, every room in the first and second floor of the new house would face south to be able to enjoy the sunshine and garden view.

Approach in the evening    Southern facade    Patio with a fountain

The building itself is in the shape of a large cylinder, the southern part of which, facing south, is cut off. I extended the truncated outer walls on both sides with an aluminum frame screen, ending in a semicircular plan. On the outside of this screen are high trees as a background, and the inside is an enclosed courtyard (patio), like a geometric Islamic garden.
At the center of the semicircle is a white marble fountain, and along the circumference of the patio is a long granite bench. In-between this and the screen is a curved flower bed. The family can have tea with guests or hold a barbecue party here in the mild seasons. At the front of the living room is fixed a large pane of glass to view the patio, arranging glass doors on both sides to combine with the garden.

The living room flows into the dining room, in which there is a special ordered table and a built-in bench, which corresponds with the garden bench, along the inmost wall to save space. Placing two preparatory chairs on the two short sides of the table, no less than eleven persons can dine together.
The upper space above the bench reaches the second floor, making it possible to talk to a person on another floor, and stealthily observe the guests from the upper floor. As the top of this space is fixed glass for lighting the second-floor corridor, which in homes is usually prone to becoming dark, is bright enough here, and persons sitting on the bench can look up to the blue sky while the table is also illuminated

Although the living-dining room is equipped with floor-heating, the warmed air tends to escape through the upper space above the bench. A resident can shut it by bringing down a Japanese ‘shoji’ to cut off the air stream and even then, still getting a soft ceiling light through the shoji. Sitting on this bench is the most comfortable place in the house.

Through section

The only outside part of this house that can be observed by the public is the entrance and its upper floor wall at the end of the approach passage. I laid blue-violet tiles on the house’s outer curved wall with a stripe of pale color tiles at regular intervals as accents, which continues to the border wall of the site. I planted a lilac tree between the two. Though this tree is the symbol of this house, the lilac is a slim and fragile tree, not growing into a large tree.

Then, I made an architectural accent with a small cylinder protruding from the second story like the child of the whole cylindrical building, also functioning as the structure to hang the entrance canopy. This half cylinder is enclosed with a milk white polycarbonate curved panel, displaying an impressive figure along with stainless frames.
It is actually the hiding screen of a clothes-drying space, which has a milk white polycarbonate roof with ventilation. In the evening, a lightbulb is automatically switched on, welcoming the homecoming family, giving the impression that someone is home during absences for the prevention of trespassers.

Corridor on the 2nd floor    Night view of Living room

© Takeo Kamiya
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