Carving Out Your Own Space in Central Tokyo

all photos by Katsuhisa Kida/FOTOTECA | click images to enlarge

After years of commuting from his parent’s home in Chiba to Tokyo for work – a round-trip excursion that ate into 4 hours of his entire day, Murashima knew it was time for a change. He decided to build a small home in Tokyo.

Just minutes from Yotsuya-Sanchome station he purchased a discounted 15-tsubo (533 sq ft) plot of land – miniature even by Japanese standards. And to make matters tighter, a building-to-land ration of 60% left him with just 9-tsubo (320 sq ft) of land to play with.

But it’s size wasn’t the only reason for the attractive price tag. The land was situated on top of a 15ft-high stone wall – part of which had to be carefully removed before work could even legally begin. And the 3 tall houses that surrounded the plot of land looked to jeopardize Murashima’s hopes for a sunlight-drenched kitchen.

Murashima went to Miurashin Architects to see how far his 30 million yen ($380K)  budget could take him. The architect, who has a knack for taking adverse land conditions and turning them on their head, came up with an impressive plan to satisfy all the demands of his client. Specifically, the plan involved a total of 9 stackable steel units placed on top of each other. Instead of doors or walls (so 2011) the multilevel spaces defined each room, creating smooth transitions throughout the house.

left: spiral staircase leading from garage to 1st fl kitchen | right: the kitchen leads to the living area

a sunroom on the right and a washitsu (japanese room) with stairs leading to the second floor

view of the sunroom and living area


With a little creative thinking the architect was able to overcome some very dire obstacles. The house, known as 43base, was completed late last year and Murashima, along with his parents, his sister and his sister’s husband, were all able to move in. This sleek little modern house definitely gets filed under our ongoing database of small spaces.

2nd level bedroom

source: submission | Miurashin Architects | TV-Tokyo


1 Comment

  1. It truly is an amazing little space! And how 5 people live in it is also amazing.

    The planning application for our Kengo Kuma building here in Dundee ( was submitted this week! One step closer.

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