TOKYO – The gable is such a familiar piece of the architectural vocabulary that its shape alone prompts us to imagine a range of other familiar pieces that probably lie beneath it. In a Tokyo suburb, Kiyotoshi Mori and Natsuko Kawamura of MDS take advantage of this familiarity in a clever trick, using a traditional, unassuming roof to conceal something altogether more complex.
The house’s unadorned exterior walls and square windows follow the roof’s modest profile, occasionally tapering and folding beneath it. These subtle transformations hint at irregularities on the interior and draw attention to an equally irregular plot of land, located at a three-point convergence of neighbourhood streets.
Inside Naruse House, the architects create a microcosm of the site. Several spatial axes intersect, forming a dramatic, winged living space that mimics the irregular confluence of streets outside. Central to this space is a built-in dining table, the ‘high ground’ from which a terraced wood floor descends into the house, recalling the rolling landscape of suburban Tokyo.