CHIBA – Japanese design will forever be an architecture magazine staple. And it is because of projects like ACRO by Apollo Architects that it maintains its position high up in our regards. The new residence in Chiba defies housing stereotypes and lands like an unidentified architectural object on the hillside residential neighbourhood.
‘There is no other place in the world besides Japan where there are as many private residential properties, where landscape and city planning regulations are as liberating, where clients and owners can take advantage of their own land’s characteristics, and where their lifestyle is the predominant design factor,’ explains Satoshi Kurosaki, the creative director of the firm. ‘I believe that’s why Japan is at the forefront of unique architectural designs done by an abundance of architects found locally.’
The house has two faces that confront each other. Upon the first encounter, a simple white box opens the dialogue with a clear message that this is a private residence. The extra volume in the background gives a little wink though and hovers over the other, ready to pounce. Once around the corner plot, this second volume clad in Galvalume – an aluminium and zinc alloy coated steel sheets in a dark grey tone - leaps over the site to hang over the expansive views of Chiba.
Mimicking the slope of the corner lot, the shed roof is at a steep angle creating a dramatic cut to the volume and gives an amusing edge to the terrace that cantilevers above the descending road.
Key to creating an intriguing residence is the clear-cut relationship between the public and private realms of family living. The client and the architects opt for a simple organisation, keeping it all compartmentalised. The street facing white box is private and uses clerestory windows to filter in daylight into the three bedrooms while closing off any visual connection to its neighbours.
In contrast, the object that houses all family gathering areas is enticing and asks for attention. When looking at this volume form the entrance, it gives an unfiltered and unapologetic view into the living area and onto the views behind with its set of full-height windows and glass sliding doors.
The two blocks come together like a Venn diagram, joined by a buffer zone in the middle where a swift corridor connects the two to the amenities of the house. It’s a clear translation of the priorities of the client and their family life into an architectural language. As a modest structure of 80 sq-m, it manages to confront the duality in residential architecture effectively and elegantly in only one-storey.