All images © Ichiro Mishima courtesy IKAWAYA Architects

Merging the organic with the inorganic; walking the fine line between indoors and outdoors, is a predominant theme in contemporary Japanese architecture. One of the latest iterations is from architect Atsushi Ikawaya, who recently completed a residential home in Eastern Japan that doubles as a music studio. The site location was ideal as it offered the convenience of being a 5-min walk from the train station for easy commuting, while being nestled in nature.


The concrete house was cast against two roads adjacent to the site, which created natural soundproofing against the road noise. A large courtyard garden visually connects with the neighboring house garden, adding up to a bigger tranquil setting. The external walls are made of raw concrete molds from cedar logs, creating a textured and characterful façade.

The dining and outdoor living areas are designed to be continuous by unifying floor and ceiling levels and finishes, with a covered outdoor space that protects furniture from the weather.

The living room is lowered 70 centimeters from the level of the garden. Hence when you sit on the sofa, your line of sight is closer to the ground, giving a perception of lying on the grass while looking up at the trees and sky. The eaves are carefully designed to allow for winter sun while blocking out the harsh summer sun, eliminating the need for curtains and hence creating a seamless indoor-outdoor connection.

One unique feature of the house is the ‘tree house’ design, with a vertically stacked garden connected externally. It serves as a hideaway, made out of 300 prefabricated modules that are light and airy, consequently allowing the client’s children to participate in building it together. 

The design also incorporates upcycling of materials, with cedar logs from the concrete formwork reused as interior finishes after proper cleaning, polishing and painting, in the recording studio.

The overall scheme aims to create a tranquil environment that is closely connected to nature, with visible garden and sky from multiple directions. The use of materials, integration of nature, and sustainable practices contribute to a unique and serene forest-like living experience in the city.