grappa

2006 -

This residence stands on an extremely narrow triangular site, of a kind referred to as heta-chi. The site is surrounded by rectangular lots, the surroundings densely built-up; the division of an irregular urban block into rectangular lots yielded this leftover and secluded lot, one which was hard to use, a type referred to in Japanese as anko (a kind of Japanese sweet wrapped with rice cake). Furthermore, the maximum volume allowed by code was triangular; any structure had to sit within this triangle. Whatever we tried, we were restrained by the shape of the site, so our idea was to search for those possibilities that can’t be conceived except on the narrow triangular blocks called heta-chi. First, we employed a simple rule for chamfering the three corners (including two acute angles) that were hard to use as indoor space, carving out the maximum usable volume in the triangle. We tried to determine ideal uses for the remaining residential space by working out the angle of our cuts, whether a cut should be inclined outward, inward, parallel or not. The wonderful exterior form was created by these simple rules, called sumi-kiri, and due to an optical illusion, the exterior wall appears to incline. At each of the site’s corners, small spaces remain unused. Adding these tiny triangular exterior spaces to open space established by regulatory setbacks, a connected open space is created. An open void always exists outside windows and doors, the sleight-of-hand of shakkei (“borrowed landscape”) is a power intrinsic to the triangular heta-chi. There is luck in these leftovers. Or perhaps, it may be more than that: collecting the strained lees of wine to distill and ferment it, takes time and effort, but in the end a very delicious drink is made; this is why we named this residence “grappa”.

location Takarazuka City, Hyogo
principal use Residence
completion date 2006
total floor area 115m2
 structure wood, partly reinforced concrete
1 basement and 2 stories