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The stairs are nice, spaces attractive, and finishes appealing … but what really sells this ultra-modern house design is the stepped-up living-and-study area, surrounded on all sides by shelves … a light-filled wooden box against the dark-stained background of the broader home.

This core portion of the layout was derived by Atelier Ryo Abe Works from two challenges: on the one hand, the residence sits on a small lot with little access to sunlight (except where neighbors could also view in), and, on the other hand, the clients wanted plenty of shelving for a series of items collected over the years.

Cool black steel and darkened wood planks create circulation and secondary spaces around the center, but the clear focus is on this towering box that builds up and out from one corner, filled with slots for objects and lit up at night with semi-concealed, indirect artificial lights. Storage and display are anything but secondary in this unique project.