Ryue Nishizawa Garden and House

An oasis in the city, this spectacular home sits on a 12-by-24-foot plot between towering residential buildings that abut it on both sides … yet seems almost like a miniature ecosystem despite its cramped quarters.

Architect Ryue Nishizawa uses lush greenery to give remarkable privacy to this Tokyo home, with planters and vases screening views from the street.

Ryue Nishizawa Garden and House from above
Ryue Nishizawa Garden and House interior

Inside, spaces within the green home are left open and undivided and borders are created with curtains, benches and other built-in or temporary dividers.  The ground-level kitchen and living room give way to bedrooms and bathrooms above, ending in a guest room and roof terrace.

Ryue Nishizawa Garden and House from street

Thick concrete slabs support each story, with punched-hole openings letting stairs, light and air percolate between levels. Somehow, despite its relatively small stature and unique approach, it stands out dramatically while also blending into its surroundings.

“Suspecting that a building with regular frame walls would result in narrowing the already narrow usable space of the site, I looked for a possibility to create a building with alternative method,” says Nishizawa. “My final decision of structure consisted of a vertical layer of horizontal slabs to create a building without walls. A garden and a room are distributed as a pair on each floor – every room, whether it is the living room, private room or the bathroom, has a garden of its own so that the residents may go outside to feel the breeze, read a book or cool off in the evening and enjoy an open environment in their daily life.”

Ryue Nishizawa Garden and House inside

“Each room is smaller than the slab allowing for freedom in determining the relationship between the room and the garden regardless of the floor level. The entirety is a wall-less transparent building designed to provide an environment with maximum sunlight despite the dark site conditions. A delight in life is felt as you ascend the light, well ventilated residence that is nestled in this exceptional location in the dense urban fabric.”