Located in an alleyway off a shopping street, this property is closely bounded on the east by a road and on the south by a three-story apartment building. The building contains two independent residences—one for a mother and the other for her son and his family—which were designed with the possibility in mind of eventually turning them into rental units.
The mother occupies the first floor, while her son, his wife, and their child are on the second and third floors. The third floor was handled as a single volume containing private areas such as the master and child’s bedrooms and the bathroom. The first floor was also treated as a single volume offset from the third-floor volume so as to open up space for a terrace on the first-floor roof. In between these two volumes, the second floor is bounded by two continuous surfaces that fit together like puzzle pieces, embracing an open living room that is integrated with the terrace.
In order to bring as much light into the first floor as possible despite the apartment building on the south side, the first-floor roof slopes up steeply on that side and has a skylight along the elevated edge. On the second floor, this slope becomes a slanted wall extending the floor of the roof balcony upwards, thereby blocking visibility from the corridor of the adjacent apartment building.
Trees planted along the elevated edge of the roof further shield the home from the third floor of the apartment building and bring dappled light inside, allowing the residents to enjoy the shifting patterns of light and greenery.
Designing residential architecture in densely developed areas tests our ability as architects to respond both to the surrounding circumstances and the individual needs of the residents. In this case, we used an unusual three-dimensional form to respond to the contradictory demands of complying with building codes related to building height and obstruction of light and views, securing adequate privacy and distance from surrounding buildings, and effectively bringing light into the living spaces.