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Shibuya  Tokyo  Japan  –  Masanori Kuwabara, Sabaoarch

Site area:     40.12m2  (433 sq ft)
Building envelope:     24.06M2  (260 sq ft)
Floor area:     78.06m2  (843 sq ft)

If you have been to Japan, you will have seen how every scrap of land is used in some way. It is either developed, farmed or managed as pristine parkland. Finding land to build a new home is a challenge, unless you want to do a commute via the Shinkansen (Bullet Train).

Shibuya Skinny
Shibuya Skinny – only three metres wide… externally!

There are two additional challenges for the would be builder. The land that is left is remnant and typically, tiny and irregular in shape. Then there is the question of a car space. In cities like Tokyo, you cannot own a car unless you can prove that you have off-street parking!

Shibuya SkinnyThis home is built on a tiny, three metre wide sliver of land wedged between two suburban roads. Building is enough of a challenge but giving the residents privacy required real innovation. The design uses concrete walls punctuated by fixed glass mini-windows to allow light in while maximising privacy and cutting external noise.

Shibuya SkinnyThe key to turn this into usable living space is the central, folded metal staircase. Half-floors oppose each other as the stairs ascend to the open roof area. “The multi-levelled house is connected by a rope of stairs. The experience is like climbing up a tree to the sky, looking at the surrounding scenery,” said architect Masanori Kuwabara.

There are two rooms on half levels on the lower-ground floor. The living room is on the next level and opens on to a tiny garden enclosed by concrete walls. The kitchen and dining area occupy the next half-level with the bathroom on the top half-level. The stairs then continue up to a small terrace and then on to the roof.

It may not be your dream home, but the architect has created a home where most would only see that tiny sliver of land.

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This is not the smallest building site we’ve discovered. Love House is even smaller…