SNARK's light-filled 'house in nonakamachi' takes shape in a japanese orchard

SNARK's light-filled 'house in nonakamachi' takes shape in a japanese orchard

snark + ouvi build a timber home in an orchard


Located outside Maebashi, a city in Japan‘s northern Gunma Prefecture, this House in Nonakamachi is a unique project hosting a single-family residence and a hair salon. Designed by architecture studios SNARK and OUVI, the house prioritizes openness and adaptability, creating a living environment that opens broadly onto the surrounding orchard, from which is takes its name.


Unlike similar homes in urban areas, House in Nonakamachi does not rely on proximity to its neighboring to inform its structure. Instead, the design takes advantage of the spacious rural site, celebrating the vast sky and distant horizon. The simple layout is a long rectangular volume with a width of 14 meters and a depth of 3.6 meters. It is constructed entirely of 4-inch square lumber, resulting in a lightweight and visually slender frame that contributes to the airy, open atmosphere.

snark house nonakamachi
House in Nonakamachi prioritizes openness and connection to the orchard environment | images © Ippei Shinzawa



house in nonakamachi: an open and flexible home


The living space of the House in Nonakamachi is shaped by an open, adaptable design by studios SNARK and OUVI. Essential living functions are concentrated on the north side of the building, allowing the south side to embrace the sunny orchard, immersing visitors within the natural site through large vertical windows. The slender timber structure is the result of a wood shortage during the planning phase. By using a standardized unit of four-inch square lumber throughout the construction, from foundation to beams, the project optimized the scarce resource.

This approach also resulted in a visually light and adaptable structure that seems to adjust to its surroundings. To ensure structural integrity, the short sides of the building feature double pillars, and the central axis is slightly widened to accommodate utility lines and built-in elements. The resulting gaps between structural elements create a subtle division within the open floor plan.

snark house nonakamachi
the house takes advantage of the spacious site, with a design that integrates with the vast sky



structure beyond mechanics


House in Nonakamachi’s design philosophy prioritizes a concept the architect terms ‘structure before structural mechanics.’ This approach starts with establishing a modular system that transcends the traditional hierarchy of large and small beams in wooden construction. The resulting structure is a combination of linear frames and solid elements that respond to the surrounding environment. The modularity also introduces a degree of flexibility, as the gaps between elements, initially unforeseen, became integrated into the design as spaces for utilities and built-in features. This adaptability extends to the roof structure, which employs diagonal braces to eliminate the need for a central pillar, creating a large, open space.

snark house nonakamachi
the adaptable living space allows residents to transform it to suit their needsSNARK's light-filled 'house in nonakamachi' takes shape in a japanese orchard
large vertical windows create a sense of immersion in the natural surroundings SNARK's light-filled 'house in nonakamachi' takes shape in a japanese orchard
standardized units of lumber optimize resource use and create a visually light structure


gaps between structural elements offer opportunities for future customization by the residents

SNARK's light-filled 'house in nonakamachi' takes shape in a japanese orchard
the unique programming includes a single-family residence and a hair salon


House in Nonakamachi exemplifies a thoughtful approach to living in harmony with nature



project info:


project title: House in Nonakamachi

architecture: SNARK | @snark_inc

location: Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture, Japan

design architect: Rei Oshima
structural design: Shin Yokoo, Keita Kisami / OUVI
interior coordinate: Tsuyoshi Yazawa / poubelle
construction: Sakura Construction

total area: 116 square meters

completion: January 2023

photography: © Ippei Shinzawa

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