The design of 3×3 House took cues from contemporary and traditional Japanese architectural principles and values, from planning to aesthetics. Our restraint approach focused on functionality, the making process and intricate details. Cocooned from the external environment, the design is inwardly focused – a delightful sanctuary.
Upon entry is a genkan – a threshold is an important feature both as a respectful preparatory ritual before entering a home and also serves as a pragmatic area to remove shoes to keep the main floors clean.
The heart of each unit is a dramatic light well connecting all three levels that not only promotes vertical interaction but also allows for ample natural day-lighting of spaces on each level even in mid-winter. The light well also acts as a ventilation shaft. Integral to the light well is a tsuboniwa, a small courtyard garden, to [re]introduce nature into our homes. Both elements expand spatial perception.
The multi-function spaces on both levels accommodates for working-from-home [e.g. during lockdowns] whereby either of these spaces can be converted to workspace/s. The multi-function space on level 2 can also be converted into a 4th bedroom.
Significant focus was placed on passive solar design in terms of creating lot configurations that would maximise solar access from the ideal Northern sun taking into account the awkward 6 sided site with no parallel or perpendicular boundary lines and the challenges present when dealing with sites with its shorter dimension facing North. Furthermore, each of the unit’s orientation, form and layout has been sculpted to achieve solar access at various times of the day and seasons. 3×3 House achieved 8 NatHERS star rating.
Internally, we’ve created a distinctively different ambience between night and day through strategic lighting – subdue, romance and cosiness in the evening in contrast to the zest, freshness and crispness of natural light during the day, like eating a hug full of comforting buta kakuni compared to the refreshing rawness of sashimi.
Feature LED strip lights under handrails, overhead units and kickboards throughout 3×3 House were not merely ornamental but also provide ample task lighting – a simple and effective way to not only highlight features but to give otherwise mundane routines an element of delight.
From the outside, a shoji screen effect as light from internally filters through the glass blocks – a suggestive tease. This is also a creative method to indirectly illuminate the external environment like a lantern. The result is a dramatic and sexy chiaroscuro.
This development offers a meticulously designed and built multi-unit exemplar on challenging small lots that also offers a sustainable, convenient, and efficient way of living. It is also an example of how carefully sculpted experiential spaces can make small feel BIG.