The white Modernist box need not be the answer – it can also be the basis for the question: what do you do with a small blank slate of a site? Two conceptual ‘cuts’ (one horizontal, the other vertical) through this structure turn it from boring to brilliant, inside and out.

Tetsushi Tominaga Architect & Associates┬áhad to work with a small Tokyo plot, factoring in city-mandated setbacks as well as essential space for parking … and a desire for fully-sunlit rooms on both first- and second-level plans, front, back and side.

Rather than seeming squeezed, though, strong verticals, natural light and copious deployment of white make the inside of the home feel open in plan and connected in section.

In combination with a central staircase, horizontal and vertical windows on the walls (and the skylights above) organize individual bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living room spaces around the core without completely cutting them off from one another.

The strong lines of glazing bisecting the building on the outside translate to the interior as well, turning into air-and-view openings between rooms and floors as well as partial-height and floor-to-ceiling doors and walkways.