Metropolitan oases are growing in popularity around the world in light of major population density issues.
Many people want a modern city lifestyle with all of the financial, social and other opportunities that lifestyle offers without such downsides as privacy issues, space shortages and noise pollution.
In response, designers have developed ‘oasis’ type residential dwellings that feature a stark and often uninviting exterior structural shell but open into stunning, private residential spaces.
A number of these have popped up across Europe, with London’s ‘Hidden House‘ gaining international interest for its boxy no-frills façade, interesting and controversial removal of wall-positioned windows and reliance on sky lighting.
Following similar design principles, Japan’s ‘House in Kitaoji’ juxtaposes a stark and uninviting exterior with a warm and welcoming interior. While developing a private and secure living space was challenge enough for architects given the small land parcel and densely-packed nature of Japanese residential areas, accessibility also stood as a key consideration and challenge given the owner’s need for wheelchair accessibility.
Designed by Torafu architects, the home has essentially been built to ensure maximum privacy and equally high accessibility standards. To accomplish these goals, the building’s exterior appears as a concrete box form on the corner of a suburban street.
When entering the space on the ground level, sliding entrance doorways are wide and double lined, maximising the separation between the interior and exterior.
The overall colour palette and atmosphere present in the interior spaces provides a stark contrast to the building’s exterior. In contrast to the bleak coldness of the concrete exterior, the interior spaces are warm and bright, with a soft creamy colour scheme and use of natural wood flooring offer to emphasise the ‘oasis’ notion of finding a retreat in the midst of a hectic city environment.
The wooden flooring further aids in the ease of movement for wheelchair users. This partnering of functionality and design is again present in the open interior layout of the space, which emphasises the building’s downward filtering natural light, creating an open and airy space, while making mobility an easily manageable task.
The building also has an elevator connecting the ground level with the next floor up. This ensures both privacy and accessibility, as the living spaces are off street level and the centrality of the space means off shooting, narrow corridors are unnecessary.
While housing of this nature has been criticised for being boxy, isolating and cold, this particular development proves that design that emphasises seclusion does not have to trap inhabitants. In fact, it can offer them the exact opposite.