Concrete spiral staircase disrupts linear interiors of House in Ashiya

House in Ashiya by Kazunori Fujimoto Architects & Associates

A spiral staircase breaks the linear geometry in a Japanese house designed by Kazunori Fujimoto Architects & Associates, which is made nearly entirely of concrete.

The house is built for a couple and their four children and sits at the base of Mount Rokko, a popular tourist destination, in the Hyōgo prefecture.

The studio designed the home with minimal openings to block out sound from a nearby road and orientate views out to the picturesque scenery.

House in Ashiya by Kazunori Fujimoto Architects & Associates

The house is split across two floors within two cuboidal volumes.

The spiral staircase is the first feature in view at the end of the corridor. It was formed from a CNC-routed mould, cast and transported to the site and fitted as the house’s finishing touch.

House in Ashiya by Kazunori Fujimoto Architects & Associates

Designed as the central feature of the home, Kazunori Fujimoto Architects & Associates gave spiritual significance to the staircase as a yorishiro. In the Shinto religion, this term is allocated to an object that will provide spirits with a physical vessel to occupy during ceremonies.

“The staircase goes beyond its function and becomes the yorishiro, which symbolises the unity of the family in this house,” explained Kazunori Fujimoto, founder of his eponymous studio.

House in Ashiya by Kazunori Fujimoto Architects & Associates

The house’s internal layout reflects its linear exterior, as the studio opted for thick horizontal and vertical planes for ledges and walls to express “spatial purity”.

These are contrasted by the curved lines of the staircase, which aims to soften the rigidity of the interior.

House in Ashiya by Kazunori Fujimoto Architects & Associates

The kitchen and living area occupies the immediate open space inside the same volume as the entrance and stairs.

Completely open plan, it provides a space for all six members of the family to gather together within the small-sized house.

An upper mezzanine level above the entrance can be accessed up a steel ladder above a large window.

House in Ashiya by Kazunori Fujimoto Architects & Associates

Windows throughout the house were placed high on the house’s walls to maintain the family’s privacy from their neighbours and replace views with the mountainous scenery.

Located near Frank Lloyd Wright’s Yodokō Guest House, the studio balanced the number of openings and enclosures to block out noise from the popular tourist spot.

The walls and windows have rotational symmetry from the room’s centre, which according to Fujimoto, is named the “windmill style” layout in Japan.

“The wall surroundings safe living areas while windows make it open at the same time,” he explained.

House in Ashiya by Kazunori Fujimoto Architects & Associates

Despite its importance in the house, the studio designed the staircase to take up as little space as possible in the corner.

This decision allowed for connective circulation space underneath the spiral, which leads to the master bedroom in the second volume.

House in Ashiya by Kazunori Fujimoto Architects & Associates

The first floor is divided into four equally sized bedrooms by two partition walls. Standing at the centre of the plan, they leave a 550-millimetre space around the perimeter for the children of the house to snugly pass between.

A large opening perforates three of the volume’s facades. As these are placed in the centre of each wall, two bedrooms are able to share one opening.

House in Ashiya by Kazunori Fujimoto Architects & Associates

Fujimoto is no stranger to delicate concrete spiral staircases, which he employed previously in House in Akitsu. Meanwhile, Hildebrand employed one at a larger scale for the Hapimag office in Switzerland.

Photography is by Kazunori Fujimoto.


Project credits:

Architect: Kazunori Fujimoto Architect & Associates
Structural engineer: Eiken Structural Consultants, Eiichi Tsumura
Construction team: Yamamoto Koumuten

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