House in Akashi garden view

Open, light and green – hardly words you would expect to describe a house that appears to be a windowless box to outside observers. Yet this remarkable architecture elegantly solves challenging contextual privacy issues without sacrificing the essential comforts of a happy home.

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House in Akashi exterior

A series of apartment buildings on multiple sides tower stories above this single-family dwelling, raising questions about how to provide privacy without cutting off fresh air or sacrificing garden greenery.

House in Akashi natural light

The solution by Arbol Design involved a bold move in the form of a tall cedar wall wrapping the whole home like a fence, adding copious fenestration to the exterior of the home itself, and creating an airy open interstitial space in between.

House in Akashi courtyard
House in Akashi wood stove

Floor-to-ceiling windows help the whole house feel directly connected to the outdoors, all while shielding residents from prying eyes. The result feels like a secret garden, a maze of hidden courtyards that outsiders don’t even know are there.

House in Akashi dining

In select places, thin slits between vertical slates allow views out from up close, but are narrow enough not to let people see in from a distance.

House in Akashi at night
House in Akashi kitchen

Outside of those small slots, though, there is hardly a window to be seen, yet the whole structure still feels more open to the outside (from within) than most homes.

“Regarding materials, one of the special features is that the building firm proudly chose various kinds of woods, for floor, exterior wall, or even for furring strips, joists, and rafter, which don’t usually play the main roles. This was only possible as the building firm well know how to use woods such as cedar, Japanese cypress, spruce, and etc. Each professional for furniture, planting, lighting equipment, interior design, carefully created one by one, arranging the balance of the whole house design image.”

House in Akashi private garden

“Through 3 courtyards, touching the plants and the soil, feeling the comfort of wind, enjoying the design of sky, the sunlight which changes its impression along with time and the season can be felt, even staying inside the house. By taking nature and plants into living life, it would bring new little discoveries in the daily life, and we hope that this house would nurture sensibility in the residents’ hearts.”