When we build a new home, one of the most important parts of the construction process is keeping rainwater out. Water causes mold and rotting, which can compromise entire foundations of homes. But one family in Japan saw rainwater not as an unwanted intruder but simply a part of life that, when controlled, can bring you and your home closer in-tune with nature.
Completed in May of 2016, the aptly titled “Puddle” is a residential home in Matsusaka City (Mie prefecture, Japan) that was designed by architect Masaki Yoneda. His client, a family of 3, had been inspired by their experience overseas when they lived in a villa accompanied by a small pool of water. But the openness of a villa would not provide the type of privacy needed in the dense residential neighborhoods of Japan. So Yoneda designed the home around a large, hollowed-out chimney, which would disperse light into the many rooms of the home. Inspired by the work of artist James Turrell, the architect conceived the chimney as a piece of contemporary art that residents could enter and immerse themselves in.
The chimney also serves the primary purpose of bringing rainwater into the home. A round hole cut into the base allows rainwater to drip down into a small space within the home that’s enclosed by glass but also can be entered. During periods of heavy rain the puddle grows in size , while clear skies cause the puddle to slowly shrink. The structure identifies rain as a part of life, just like sun, and should be enjoyed equally.
As an architect, Yoneda excels in coming up with unique ways to bring the great outdoors, indoors. He previously designed a home that incorporated a large tree in its center. The puddle home reminds us of this preschool, also designed to accumulate large puddles when it rains.