Kusatsu House open courtyard

The shortage of living space in Japan has inspired some rather creative, unusual, and fascinating architecture. The Kusatsu House from Alts Design Office is another project that was adapted to fit the building site rather than the other way around.

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Kusatsu House exterior

The home is located right next to a parking lot in Shiga. The only barrier between the house and the car park is a short wall with a fence. The two-story home is also very close to other homes and apartment buildings, so the architects had to figure out a way to make the home comfortable while preserving the residents’ privacy.

Kusatsu House skylight
Kusatsu House living room

They came up with an elegant solution that fits the home and the space perfectly. Along the wall facing the parking lot, they created an “outside space in the inside space.”

Kusatsu House stairs

Blocked from the view of the car park by a one-story wall, the walkway is enclosed at both ends by glazing. The side of the house opens up into this enclosed courtyard-like space with huge glass doors.

Kusatsu House zen garden

The enclosed walkway is topped off by skylights, so the space is always filled with natural light which is then allowed to filter into the house through the walkway-facing glass.

In this unique space, a rock garden and traditional Japanese tatami area greet the residents and allow for moments of reflection. The open floor plan inside further encourages the movement of light and makes the outdoor space feel like an uninterrupted continuation of the indoor space.

Kusatsu House side view

“We prepared this project for ‘Hatazaochi,’ that means a lot whose figure is just like flag and the pole. This lot is surrounded by a condominium building and houses. There is a parking lot of a condominium building on the south side of the lot. But a house with a southern exposure is not good because the client wants to secure the privacy. Therefore, we arranged the exclusive path extended in the inside of the house.”

“We gave importance to design the outside space in inside space and produced diverse and interesting space. We didn’t separate into inside and outside of house simply, and designed the outside space in inside space. By doing so, we brought a feeling of strangeness in a good sense.”