Roof House in Kanagawa, Japan

It was actually the client who created the idea of having lunch on top of the roof. The client used to live in a typical 30-year-old Japanese house with a sharply pitched roof. When we went to visit the client for the first time, they showed us upstairs through the small window the tiny 6 square meter roof and told us, "We eat lunch on top of this roof daily." Seeing such a limited space on a sharp-pitched roof, we decided to not only accommodate to their needs but to push the possibilities of their dream.

Located in the suburbs of Tokyo, the Roof House in Hadano district, Kanagawa Prefecture shares the living spaces between the ground floor and the entire roof. By maintaining a simple plan and utilizing a lightweight, yet earthquake responsive structure, the house provides a visually and tactilely generous space for the family. The thin roof, timber columns, and structural plywood panels allow for a flexible, partitioned space and open the view through the house and into the nearby valley and Mt. Kobo.

The partitioned spaces are also organized with eight skylights above each room, serving specific family members: the younger sister’s skylight above the children’s room, the elder sister’s skylight above the study room, the father’s skylight above the bedroom, the mother’s skylight above the kitchen, and the family’s skylight above the dining room. A light bulb and lantern further complement this one to one lighting configuration to respond to the activities.

Climbing up the ladders that can be leaned to the ledges of each skylight, the living space extends into the rooftop and merges with the outside. With a freestanding wall to break the wind and provide privacy, the rooftop is equipped with a dining table, benches, a kitchen, a stove, and even a shower. The 1 to 10 pitched roof provides a comfortable and identical slope to that of the original topography and has a low roof edge to further connect the roof life to the garden life, such as easily handing over barbecues from the garden. This free-flow experience and usable space thus not only bond the family life with nature and the surroundings but also bring a moment of respiration to the neighborhood.

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