Murakoshi House: A Future-Proof Urban Abode

Designed by Hiroki Watanabe, the Murakoshi House is a unique urban dwelling that integrates floodwaters into its design

Located in a bustling intersection in Tokyo, the Murakoshi House is a testament to innovative architectural design that prioritizes safety and comfort. This award-winning design by Hiroki Watanabe is a unique urban dwelling that seamlessly integrates the challenges of its location, including floodwaters, into its design.

Watanabe's inspiration for the Murakoshi House came from the site itself. The pentagonal plot, located at a three-way street bustling with pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and adjacent to a waterway prone to flooding, presented a complex intersection of various elements. Watanabe's design solution was to create a three-dimensional openness to these elements. The architecture allows light and wind to flow into the interior while considering convenience for people and cars, and strategically dodging water.

What sets the Murakoshi House apart is its duality of open public and introverted private living spaces. The house, with its drive-through garage using a high foundation and monolithic facade that takes into account sight lines and sound, maintains an appropriate sense of distance from the surrounding environment. This work explores a simple, yet sensible, approach to future urban housing with an eye toward natural disasters.

The technical realization of the Murakoshi House involved meticulous planning. To maximize the building-to-land ratio, a pentagonal plan configuration was chosen to match the site shape. The cross-sectional configuration of the second floor and loft was selected in consideration of height restrictions, fire prevention regulations, and structural planning. The first floor was planned with a high foundation to minimize the impact on the building in the event of flooding.

The Murakoshi House is a private residence for a couple. It is a new construction, wooden structure, two stories above ground with a high foundation and a loft. The site area is 73.92m2 and the total floor area is 81.73m2. The design period for the Murakoshi House was six months, from November 2020 to April 2021. The construction period was seven months, from May 2021 to December 2021.

Watanabe's design faced the challenge of creating a safe and comfortable place to live, given the site's low elevation, the risk of flooding in the valley, and the densely populated surrounding area. Taking into consideration the effects of recent climate change and rising electricity costs, the key point was how to create comfort. Architectural innovations and facilities were planned to withstand these factors. The insulation performance was set to a high level, and a level of almost no heating was implemented even in winter by minimizing the number of windows, using a Ua value of 0.37, using heat exchange ductless ventilation, and thorough air sealing measures.

The Murakoshi House's innovative design and practical approach to urban living have not gone unnoticed. The design was awarded Silver in A' Architecture, Building and Structure Design Award in 2023. This prestigious award is rewarded to top-of-the-line, creative, and professionally remarkable designs that illustrate outstanding expertise and innovation. These designs, admired for their strong technical characteristics and splendid artistic skill, showcase a remarkable level of excellence and introduce positive feelings, amazement, and wonder.

Project Details and Credits

Project Designers: Hiroki Watanabe
Image Credits: Image #1: Photographer Yasutaka Kojima, Variations, 2022. Image #2: Photographer Koichi Torimura, Variations, 2022. Image #3: Photographer Yasutaka Kojima, Variations, 2022. Image #4: Photographer Yasutaka Kojima, Variations, 2022. Image #5: Photographer Koichi Torimura, Variations, 2022.
Project Team Members: Hiroki Watanabe
Project Name: Murakoshi
Project Client: Hiroki Watanabe

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