courtesy of Key Operation Inc.
The house’s asymmetrical roofline maximizes both its playfulness as well as its volume. The architect has created within a complex interior space consisting of rooms of varying sizes, which are stack on top of each other over three floors. One would not be able to observe such a structure from outside of the house, but it reflects the layout of the area, which has a mixture of detached houses, both large and small. The biggest room in the house is the dining/living room, stretched horizontally to fit the whole width of the house. By extending the room vertically, the architect has opened up this room to the rest of the house. What look like shelves jutting out of one wall of this room are actually steppingstones for the pet cat to enter into the adjacent rooms through the openings placed higher up on the wall. This arrangement leaves the ample staircase and landings, which double up as a library, undisturbed from the burst of activities of the feline member of the family, while the rest of the family uses them as a place of quietude. Moreover, just as the garage became the visual focal point for the exterior of the house, the staircase, painted also brightly pink, signals a gathering of all the separate interior sections of Neko no Ie.
By varying the sizes of the rooms and painting them in different colours, the architect has emphasized their uniqueness and separateness. At the same time, he has managed to link the rooms through small and large openings so that none of the rooms is completely isolated. Autonomy is respected but isolation is discouraged. For instance, a large opening in the wall of the dining/living room, which looks into the kitchen, allows the person who is cooking to connect with the person who is being served. In the meantime, the cat can slip into the study located above the kitchen through yet another, this time smaller, opening. The rooms’ co-dependence is thus implicitly emphasized. Neko no Ie is a symbolic celebration of the emergence of the modern Japanese family, more democratic than the traditional one preceding it, allowing each member to flourish independently while nurturing a supportive environment. Ironically, a pet cat was an integral part of it.
(Text by Yuki Sumner 2011)
Structural Engineer: aR Structural Engineering
Construction: Tokyo Gumi