This small house rises above the trees on a forested hillside. To take full advantage of the available views, architect Keiichi Hayashi stacked the rooms vertically, creating a simple tall box of a house. Working with the slope, he opted for a split-level plan that divides the 96 m2 (1,033 ft2) of space over a total of six levels, each dedicated to a single function. Starting at the bottom, they are the entry foyer, children’s bedroom, bathroom, parent’s bedroom, living room, and kitchen/dining room at the top of the house. The six levels are connected by a switchback staircase in the middle of the small floor plan.
The exterior is clad in a bark-like brown corrugated metal siding that helps the house blend into the forest. Large sliding windows are scattered over the facades with no overall pattern. They are placed to according to the needs of each individual room, with each window framing a specific view. The interior has a very minimal design with no trim and frameless windows. Most of the interior surfaces are uniformly white except for some exposed concrete at the lowest levels. The varying light levels and views add atmosphere, giving individual character to the six spaces that would otherwise be almost interchangeable.
The tall structure set on the steep hillside allows for daylight levels and views that differ by floor level. As you move up through the small house, the views change from the forest understory to the tree canopy and finally to distant vistas over the treetops. Likewise the quality of the light changes from indirect daylight only, to dappled sunlight filtered by the tree leaves, to bright sunshine.