Moriyama House situated in Tokyo, Japan, and designed by Ryue Nishizawa is one of the most influential private houses in Japanese contemporary architecture.
The Moriyama House, designed by the Office of Ryue Nishizawa, was completed in 2005. Minimal white volumes - each differing in size - create a complex streetscape between the varying functions of the house, while the multiple entrances are unified by the unique spaces in-between.
Its plan stuns with its simplicity. Set on a rectangular plot, the house comprises of 7 larger and 3 single-room parallelograms that, with their outline reduced to a fine line, establish a non-hierarchical composition; a vanished center, an absence of symmetry and of any other axes of ordering, a lack of any determined rule regarding the analogies and relations of the building figures. The only apparent guideline is the slight alignment of a few of the volumes and the overall receding from the outer limits of the plot. In a similar manner, hierarchy is also absent from the elevations of the project, with the rectangular plans being almost randomly extruded to create a disordered landscape of parallelepipeds; a visual analogy to the Tokyo cityscape.
Each volume, built with thin structural panels of steel sheet, is set apart from the rest by size, proportion and number of floors, and can accommodate from one full apartment to a basic residential unit. Currently, the owner’s house takes up a single volume of the plot, distributed in four floors that contain a study, the living area and two bedrooms. The rest, drawn up as a group of small precincts, are apartments for rent, though in a future they will become part of the owner’s dwelling. Of the five, two of them gather independent units around a garden; the first one includes three isolated volumes that contain a kitchen, a living area and the bathroom, whereas the second links up, after crossing a short path, a study and bathroom contained in different areas. The three remaining apartments consist of a three-story volume with a single space per floor that includes the bathroom, the kitchen and the bedroom; another one with two bedrooms, living area and roof terrace and finally, a small two-story apartment with a bathroom and study on ground floor
The project pushes the relationship between public and private at the very extremes. The lot is not encircled by any fences and allows free access. Small gardens and paths connect each block and are open to the neighbourhood. The relation between public and private is a unique concept. Windows expose the life of the residents and have been thought in order to be offset to allow privacy. In this project, Ryue Nishizawa aimed to open housing towards garden, streets and the city of Tokyo. Landscape, city, and house become indistinguishable.