By Alice Finney
Japanese studio Snark Architectures has renovated an apartment at the base of a mountain outside Tokyo, taking cues from the design of traditional cabins to create a wood-lined home for a couple who enjoy climbing and trekking.
The apartment is located in a condominium in the suburban town of Chofu, and is aptly named House in Chofu. The home’s location near Mount Takao and the Tama River informed the design.
The clients, who enjoy outdoor activities including mountain walking and foraging in the countryside, asked the practice for a simple living space, with lots of room for all of their equipment.
“The house is the base camp connecting mountains and cities,” Snark Architectures director Yu Yamada told Dezeen.
“The open-plan layout is inspired by a mountain hut. Most mountain huts are open plan, with earthen floors. The living areas are usually gathered compactly together.”
Wooden cabinetry and flooring dominates the space, which is sparsely decorated and lends it the appearance of a utilitarian cabin.
To create more space for the clients’ climbing accessories, the architects reorganised the entire single-storey space.
They removed room dividers between the living room, dining kitchen and bedroom to create an open-plan space separated by clear glass panels. Doors were replaced with framed doorways to create the illusion of a bigger, more open space.
Floor-to-ceiling gazing leads out onto a decked terrace offering views to Mount Takao, which lies to the west of the building.
The bedroom was kept private and part concealed through clever placement of the furniture.
The furniture separating the kitchen and the bedroom was made a little higher than other furniture, and arranged so as to enclose the bedroom.
Having reduced the size of the living area, the architects expanded what was originally a 9-metre room to create the Mountain Room, installing low workbenches and storage areas for the couple’s trekking and climbing gear.
“The mountain room was opened as a place to allow various activities such as maintaining gear, preparing for mountain climbing and gathering with fellow climbing friends. By doubling the size of the area, it became more than just a storage room,” the architect told Dezeen.
Cupboards, shelves and hangers are all kept at waist height or below so as not to obstruct views to the outside, and to make the low ceilings feel less claustrophobic. The furniture housing outdoor gear is made of lauan plywood, selected for its durability.
Another renovation that maximises its limited floor area through the use of clever storage is Design Eight Five Two apartment in Hong Kong. Here, adjustable furniture and sliding walls make the 51-square-metre space appear much bigger.
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