The simple but elegant design of the exterior is mirrored inside, providing a comfortable and airy living area. The upgraded tatami mats (seen above) double as seating and bedding if required. As mentioned in our preview article, these pieces can aid in cooling the interior without relying on expensive air conditioning. There is plenty of natural light, but the ventilation through the roof allied with the green curtain surrounding the inner hub mean that the living area maintains a constant, comfortable temperature.
Returning to outside of the building, the solar hot water heating system is neatly positioned at the front of the house. The house is oriented in a southerly direction and the water slowly runs through a coiled pipe that is naturally heated by the sun. Foregoing the traditional lawn, the designers have put a paddy field in place so that residents are provided with up to half a years supply of rice. Moreover, the paddy field itself acts as a natural water filter for the grey water recycling system.
No other house in the competition has considered their residents requirements to quite this degree, and in our opinion the paddy field replacing the lawn is an idea that makes a lot of sense. The Omotenashi House is also surrounded by greenery with a wide array of native plants. Obviously, the choice of plants would be up to you, but they function as both an aesthetic and practical addition to the building.
On following the ramp up to the house itself, one encounters the living green curtain that provides shade and privacy to the interior. The veranda-like structure encasing the inner hub of the house has wires connecting to the roof and the floor that support climbing plants. The idea here is to bring practicality and beauty together, allowing residents to produce their own fragrant fruit and vegetables using an architectural ornament.
Inside the living curtain, next to one of the entrances, is a greenhouse. Here you can grow plants under almost any condition, and water is provided for by the grey water recycled from the sink and various kitchen appliances.
The interior is well designed and utilizes modern appliances that are designed for maximum energy efficiency. The kitchen area provides ample cooking space, again mixing tradition with modernity, and one can find details such as ornamental Japanese green tea pots sitting next to state of the art equipment. The theme of showing a respect for Japanese culture, while glimpsing towards the future, permeates the entire home.