A House Built on 20 m2 of Land by Arte-1. Architects

The residents of this Tokyo house do not feel cramped as the absence of partitions and the plentiful natural light remedy the lack of space.


WordsLéa-Trâm Berrod

© Kai Nakamura

In the lively Shinjuku district of Tokyo stands the six tsubo (approximately 20-square-metre) house, built from black wood and constructed by Arte-1. Architects in 2020. With its rounded French window, it stands out among the old houses lined up along the narrow street. 

The owners of the premises, a family of three, wanted the residence to offer a sense of intimacy but also to be open to the environment. In spite of challenges faced in completing the construction project (difficulty accessing the area, delayed deliveries due to the pandemic, the limited area of land), the architectural firm managed to create a modest residence that stands tall, and where the interior can be seen through the large glass façade. 


Invitation to live in an urban area

The family house is fire-resistant thanks to its fireproof wooden panels and reveals some of what goes on inside every day through a door made from Low-E glass that ensures heat insulation. ‘We hope this door will be the door of hope that opens up the way we live in cities’, Arte-1. Architects explain on their website. However, imposing curtains offer a sense of security and protect the residents from overly prying eyes. 

A balcony on the roof, open staircases, a multi-tier mezzanine… The interior layout, including the metal kitchen, the two bedrooms, and the bathroom made from natural stone, optimises the use of living spaces. As such, the rooms do not have any partitions. The change of atmosphere occurs thanks to the different materials and colours used. With carefully thought-out storage, the sense of enclosure is diminished. This is strengthened by the windows, including those in the roof, which showcase the living room and the atrium, flooded with daylight. 


6 Tsubo House (2020), a project by the firm Arte-1. Architects, can be viewed on their website. 

© Kai Nakamura

© Kai Nakamura

© Kai Nakamura