archi LAB. t+m: CNHN / a house with a light well archi LAB. t+m: CNHN / a house with a light well
may 03, 2011

archi LAB. t+m: CNHN / a house with a light well

‘CNHN / a house with a light well’ by archi LAB. t+m, sapporo, japan images courtesy of yoshihiro hashiguchi




japanese practice archi LAB. t+m has created ‘CNHN’, a single family home located in sapporo, japan. enclosed and modest in its form, the design features an impenetrable facade which separates the home from the surrounding industrial neighborhood. mimicking the materiality and proportions of a warehouse, the building both integrates with and contrasts its unlikely environment where manufacturing units and transport trucks dominate.


an internal void positioned between the facade and the main living space draws natural light into the two story structure, which is almost devoid of any additional windows. looking to subtly harmonize interior and exterior environments, the light well acts as a buffer zone between the contrasting contexts, drawing a diffused light into the whole of the home.




inside, changing light conditions alter the simple, neutral atmosphere as it  transitions between direct and indirect sunlight. light and air circulate throughout the home, passing through voids in perpendicular surfaces and entering into private, secondary spaces.

kitchen and dining room

(left) view of entry hall from kitchen (right) entry hall and stairway

living room

view of light well from living room

light well

sky through light well

floor plan / level 0

floor plan / level 1



project info:


site area: 87.9 sq meters building area: 38.1 sq meters total floor area: 67.4 sq meters structure: two storey building in wooden structure construction: marushige akasaka construction

  • ‘Enclosed and modest’? Try self absorbed and ugly! What possible contribution does that building make to a friendly, supportive or welcoming community? None. Blurgh. Yet another example of architecture that should never have left the model workshop.

    Jules M says:
  • I agree with you Jules.

    SARA says:
  • Why does Japan have one of the highest suicide rate on earth?
    Try to live in this nicely furbished prison!

    and by the way: “…the environment where manufacturing units and
    transport trucks dominate”
    I can only see single family homes, and kids playing around..

    prison says:
  • Those are good comments. But let’s consider a few things. This design calls a spade a spade. That area has factories etc all over. Those factories are not going away. That “neighborhood” is never going to be a white picket fence sort of place. How secure have you felt in an urban industrial zone long after dark? If land scarcity has moved you to consider such a locale you will have to adapt to it. The first issue to address is security because if you are not safe you won’t move your family there. This design answers the security question while still bathing the interior with light. While I can’t see myself buying such a house I can say that it does not detract from the area. Look at the other blank walls on adjacent buildings.

    Steve says:
  • The house’s merits are debatable, but I’d say the agressivity of Japanese cities is what calls for houses like this and not the other way around. The comment on suicide was appalling.

    name says:
  • Minimalist and austere, yes. But look at all of the natural light. A few trees (inside and out) would help tremendously.

    Heywood Floyd says:
  • Steve’s comment is very interesting, and probably applicable for most industrial areas in the world. But all of Japan is actually a very safe place, where virtually only the ones already connected to criminality is a potential victim. Violence in the street does almost not excist in Japan.

    The way of building houses, without windows to the street is relatively common in Japan compared to the rest of the world, and it depends mainly on the traditional and cultural concept of a home, which is very far from the Western concept.

    Swedish architect living in Japan says:
  • Interesting comments …… an urban cave with a blank canvas onto which the dweller can imagine, meditate, visualise almost anything.

    After all we all live in 3 worlds – the outer 3D physical world – the middle emotional and mental world of selective and conditioned perception – and the inner world of our true being. How we view the outer world gives us all an opportunity to see clearly what we are creating from the inner worlds. The inner creates the outer!

    Michaelangelo Design NZ says:
  • I love the idea. Wish I could live here. When I come home I want to have a place free of all external distractions….this is meditative, peaceful, and comforting. the only thing its lacking is an interior garden space…as traditional Japanese houses used to have.

    urban woodswalker says:
  • It needs a roof deck to give an exterior space, otherwise I don’t really understand what earlier commenters are griping about, it fits into a world wide history that goes back for millenia of inward looking and protective city buildings.

    ian milliss says:

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