Ninja House: Open-Ceiling Layout is an Agility Course


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If the owners of this highly unusual Tokyo home weren’t already physically fit when they moved in, they probably are now, as navigating the levels through wide-open ceilings requires more than a little agility. Hiroyuki Shinozaki describes ‘House T’ as a dwelling that doubles as a bookshelf, with each floor serving as a successive plane for storage and living spaces while the center serves as an atrium.

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The clients, who commissioned the architects to creatively renovate their 750-square-foot urban space on an irregular lot, refer to their residence as ‘ninja house,’ saying living there has required them to become more nimble, but they haven’t yet fallen through any of the brazenly rail-free gaps.

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The steps leading from the ground floor to the second level are themselves a bookcase as well, and the narrow surfaces that rim each opening offer space for lights and plants. While some of the spaces are navigable by ladder, not every transition from one plane to the next is even that easy to climb, requiring the occupants to clamber. Some of the mezzanine levels are set so that the next floor up acts as a table along the perimeter of the space.

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The architects refer to each level as a “floating stage, upon which light is hung to theatrically enhance daily life.” Each plane is visible from at least one side, which doesn’t do much for privacy, but does make for an interesting domestic tableau. All of those open spaces enable daylight to get to each room

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