Kyoto, Japan

Project Size: 1,078 square feet

Program: Although located in a neighborhood near Kyoto known for its historical buildings, this house is in a newly developed residential area marked by contemporary architecture. It sits near the top of a hill on an unusual fan-shaped site bordered on the south and east by roads and the west by a bamboo thicket. Regulations limit the height of the building to 16 feet on the north side of the property. To amplify the sense of space within the dwelling for the tight site, the clients requested the public areas of the house be given an open plan.

Solution: The architects placed thirteen 26-foot-high louvers on the south facade to allow light to penetrate far into the house.  The fins serve both as blinds to give visual privacy from the road and to subtly filter light through the interior. In this way, they are reminiscent of trellises on the facades of merchant houses in Kyoto as well as traditional shoji Japanese screens. Windows inserted in the west wall of the fiber-reinforced cement clad structure allow occupants to have views of the bamboo thicket.

The wood frame construction is concealed for the most part, except for wood columns in the kitchen, dining, and living areas on the first floor. The second level, split in section to make the most of the house’s limited height, is divided into the children’s quarters and a study on a lower part, with a bathroom a few steps above. From a rooftop deck, the owners can look out over central Kyoto. 

The architects inserted lighting on the inside of the louvers to illuminate both the interior and exterior of the house. At night, the entire building gives off a soft glow like a giant lantern.


Owner: Tomoya Bando, Ikuyo Bando

Completion Date: May 2012

Gross square footage: 100.19 m2

Total construction cost: $682,000

Fujiwaramuro Architects
7-4 Karahori-cho
Tennoji-ku, Osaka-shi, 543-0012
Osaka, Japan

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Project architect: Shintaro Fujiwara,Yoshio Muro

Structural engineer: horita noritaka

General contractor: Yamamoto Yasu komuten

Photographer(s): Toshiyuki Yano

CAD system: Vector Works



Structural system

Exterior cladding
The outside wall: fiber reinforced cement siding (NICHIHA CORPORATION)

Aluminum‐zinc alloy‐coated steel sheet

Metal frame: an aluminum sash [window frame] (LIXIL CORPORATION )

Glass: Pair glass

Entrances: wood door

Metal doors: aluminum door (LIXIL CORPORATION)


Pulls: WOOD (design: Fujiwaramuro architects)

Interior finishes
Inner wall: Acrylic emulsion paint

Floor: oak flooring (Kousei CORPORATION)

Ceilings: Acrylic emulsion paint

Chairs: SERIES 7 3107(Fritz Hansen)

Tables: D614 (Fritz Hansen)

Incandescent lamp

Other unique products that contribute to sustainability: Plant

Sapphire Skies Blue Beaked Yucca