House of Trough by Japanese studio Jun Igarashi Architects is a minimalist dwelling for a couple located east of Hokkaido, Japan.
In order to ensure that the living space was sufficiently closed-off from outside site conditions, various programs of the house act as ‘buffer zones’ and are distributed accordingly to push certain spaces more inward than outward. The square-shaped plan sandwiches the living/dining/kitchen area between a service/storage volume to the north and a bedroom/storage volume to the south. This middle zone is largely devoid of windows but remains open vertically to promote a spacious quality.
“If you see this type of space as a buffer zone you realize it shares similarities with the traditional Japanese-style engawa, or verandas, meant to physically and mentally connect the interior to the exterior,” says Igarashi
With lookout mezzanines of varying heights accessible by ladders or stairs, these two functional zones receive a constantly changing show of light and shadow from openings strategically placed to minimize unwanted views. To the south, the zone comprises four spaces—the entrance, staircase, master bedroom, and guest bedroom sunk into a partial basement. The north zone accommodates a laundry area, storage, and a study.
Igarashi designed most of the furniture using inexpensive painted plywood, and then installed translucent white organdy curtains that are pulled across the inner edges of peripheral areas to enclose the main living spaces. They can also remain open, permitting family members and guests to view the action in the courtyard “trough” from various perches.