The House in Yamasaki is a 119 sm (1,280 sq ft) home in Japan located in a new residential area built on what used to be fields. The area is known for its often cloudy days, and Yo Shimada of Tato Architects wanted the house to be infused with light and reflect the origins of the area. The home was built for a young couple and their two children with the main living spaces on the lower floor. This bottom level is slightly sunken into the earth in order to find a solid foundation, and to help improve the energy efficiency of the home. The rooftop deck provides additional space to play, while providing views of the surrounding mountains.
Above the lower level is a rooftop deck and three greenhouse structures. Openings in the floors of these structures connect the living space below and flood it with natural light. The greenhouse structures serve multiple purposes and are integral to the home’s energy-efficiency program. Besides reducing the need for artificial lighting, the structures also encourage natural ventilation through the stack effect and the help of operable vents and fans that are sometimes needed during the summer. On really hot and cold days, a covering can be pulled across the openings to shade from the sun or blanket in the heat.
The home relies on an energy-efficient geothermal and floor heating system, which is aided by the house being slightly sunk into the earth. The greenhouse structures are also efficiently designed to insulate against the cold and heat while still allowing in daylight. A sandwich of materials, including corrugated polycarbonate panels, moisture and water absorbing and heat-retaining sheets of greenhouse material, and thermal insulation material of recycled PET bottles, make up the greenhouse structures.
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