Bring the Hillside In: Sloping Green Floors in a Japanese Home



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Why keep furniture in fixed positions when you could treat every day in your home like a picnic, laying down a blanket or relaxing in a recliner in whatever feels like the coziest spot? This highly unusual house by Mitsuharu Kojima Architects, located in a densely populated area of Japan, brings the outside in with sloping green floors that mimic grass. The clients wanted to feel connected to nature without sacrificing privacy, which is no easy task considering that the modestly sized two-story home is sandwiched between another residence and a studio.

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Designed for a family of four, the ‘Boko Deko’ house offers a blank slate – or rather, an empty field – as a backdrop for furniture rearranging. The interior spaces are not predetermined by furniture layout, instead allowing the residents to freely choose how they want to interact with the space every day. Multiple floor levels and a lack of interior walls add to the sense of a dynamic environment, with the sloped portion leading up to a terrace facing a wall of floor-to-ceiling glass. From the back of the home, this slope directs views up to the sky and blocks those of neighboring structures for a secluded feel. On either side of the home, soundproof load-bearing walls contain tons of built-in storage to keep chairs and the rest of the family’s belongings from cluttering the space.

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That rectangle of glass along the ceiling casts geometric sunlight shapes onto the carpeted ‘grass’ throughout the day, moving across the interior with the sun. If you want to sunbathe in the privacy of your own home, you can simply move your chair or blanket to follow it. Stairs and a ladder are built into the slope for easy access, and the carpeted platform butts up against the white kitchen counter like one big bar seat.

“It is like the experience of sitting under a tree to avoid the sun on a hot day, or of looking for a sunny spot for some warmth on a cold one,” say the architects.

“From a fragment of the clients’ conversation, their desire for spaces that match their feelings was detected: spaces that are not predetermined by furniture, but spaces that can be more freely chosen. It resembles the sense for finding one’s own comfortable spot in a wooded yard… One’s comfort changes depending on the season and time of day. The residents will find their own spots according to their feelings, for instance reading in a sunny spot on a soft floor, or lying on a cool floor to experience a nice breeze. In such a way, this house and its residents approach each other.”

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The overall effect is reminiscent of the 1960s and ‘70s love affair with carpeting, where soft surfaces went right up to the base of the toilet and tub in the bathroom and were often styled into complex landscapes. But, sticking to a dense, low-nap carpet texture rather than a shag and contrasting this somewhat out-of-fashion material with light, bright modern surfaces keeps the grassy slope from feeling too campy.

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