K2-design's flat 40 in japan balances privacy and openness K2-design's flat 40 in japan balances privacy and openness
jun 03, 2013

K2-design's flat 40 in japan balances privacy and openness

K2-design’s ‘flat 40’ in japan balances privacy and openness

photo © takahiro shimokawa

all images courtesy of keisuke kawaguchi+K2-design




this japanese house by keisuke kawaguchi+K2-design is named after the 40 meter-long ukikabe (a floating screen wall) designed to

provide privacy from the seven-story apartment building across the street. the concrete wall is offset 1.5 meters from the face of the building;

the support for this massive concrete structure was precisely calculated. its visual heaviness is balanced by a corridor of light and air at the perimeter.

the opaque wall contrasts with the transparent glass walls to the north and at the courtyards, providing practical harmony of privacy and openness.

raised off the ground plane, the family can see the feet of people approaching the house, while having privacy from the street.

fresh air enters the home from under the ukikabe, then flows down the corridor to the courtyard.


located in ehime prefecture, the elongated site is reminiscent of the shimanami kaido expressway that connects the imbari city to six islands in

the seto inland sea. the living spaces are organized off of a central hallway which divides the house into two parts. to the south,

the rooms are elevated on a skip floor, or mezzanine. underneath this level there is ample storage to encourage visual simplicity in daily living.

full height opaque partitions separate bed and bathrooms. in contrast, the primary living rooms remain open to one another without

walls in the east-west direction. to the north, high ceilings, expanses of glass, and skylights connect the indoors and outdoors,

allowing ample daylight to fill the space, and views of the outdoor pool and courtyard, trees and sky, to create a tranquil environment.



 the ukikabe blocks views into the house from the neighboring apartment building

photo © takahiro shimokawa



 as one approaches the house their feet can be seen under the ukikabe

photo © takahiro shimokawa



 the house takes advantage of the long narrow site, organizing program linearly, as if it were an expressway

photo © toru kitamura



 courtyards allow light and exterior views, while the ukikabe maintains privacy

photo © takahiro shimokawa



 the house is build as a split-level. (left): the play room has a high ceiling (right): the kitchen and dining area are on the upper level

photo © takahiro shimokawa



detailing carries the idea of the split level through the house. (left): the courtyard (right): the play room

photo © takahiro shimokawa



 the continuous wooden ceiling unites all living spaces in the house

photo © takahiro shimokawa, toru kitamura



 on the north side of the house, bedrooms open completely to the outdoors with glass walls

photo ©  toru kitamura



the ukikabe floats 1.5 meters off the face of the house

photo © takahiro shimokawa




 the heaviness of the wall is balanced by the mass of the house

photo ©  toru kitamura



 the white finish of the screen wall and roof reflect light, dramatically changing the house’s appearance throughout the day
photo © toru kitamura


  • at first I thought: what is is it with the japanese (architecture) that they’d rather stare at a blind wall than see their neighbours’ houses. But here it works, and seems displace the setting to somewhere in the countryside instead of next to a highrise.

    DAO says:
  • Architekur genial, einfach – absolut lebenswert in dieser Umgebung! René Düsel

    René Düsel says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news