A cluster of boxes united by irregular, interstitial space, InBetween House mimics the Japanese urban condition on an architectural scale. While the rectangular volumes are like small buildings, the amorphous areas in between are akin to the narrow passageways and odd gaps that crop up almost organically in Japanese cities. A bit of an anomaly, this house is a full-time residence located in Karuizawa, a tony vacation town 95 miles northwest of Tokyo. Yet for the owners, a 40-something couple with jobs in the city, the daily commute by bullet train is a small price to pay for waking up in the country.
The relatively recent introduction of this high-speed train route made the clients' lifestyle logistically possible; it was the economic downturn, however, that made it a reality, since they were able to get a good deal on the 16,000-square-foot property. Situated within a planned second-home development not far from the station, the secluded parcel marks the end of a narrow, winding access road. Though neighboring houses are visible, the plot abuts a protected forest owned by Japan's imperial family. In the hope of attracting a buyer, the developer cut a level strip of land across the steeply sloped, square parcel thirty years ago but was hesitant to unload it until recent financial woes forced his hand.