The Kidosaki House is a house of great refinement located in a quiet residential district not far from the center of Tokyo, Japan. Its spaces are breathtaking in their sheer beauty.
There is little to comment on with respect to this work. The beauty of its spaces leaves the observer at a loss for words. There is a sense of ease and elegance about the house. That is because we have a feeling here of time and life spent in leisure.
The house can be tiny or spacious, the client affluent or not so affluent — As an architect Tadao Ando never changes his approach. He always discovers a theme unique to that house and invents something original that makes everyday life more enjoyable.
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In the case of the Kidosaki House, that something was elegant beauty. White is used in the interior spaces, in response in part to a request by the client’s mother. This whiteness endows the spaces with splendor and radiance.
This is a three-household house, for a husband and wife and their respective parents. The program called for a design that would enable the three families to live together but preserve the privacy of each household.
Courtyards were the key. The three-story building is based on a 20 foot square grid. The intention was to create complex spaces within a simple composition. This large residence is in marked contrast to the Row House to Sumiyoshi, but is an extension of the earlier work in the sense that space is developed around a courtyard.
Ando takes the idea of the courtyard from the traditional townhouses of japan but, using concrete, develops multi-level courtyards, something that cannot be achieved in wooden architecture.
These courtyards are spaces for introducing nature into the three households and assuring those households their privacy.
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The rooms look out onto courtyards, but diverse windows—such as low windows and full-height windows are used in combination so that persons in different rooms never find themselves looking directly at each other.
Ando arranges the windows symmetrically and clearly establishes frontality; he also takes ventilation into consideration in designing the sash.
With double sliding windows, he uses concealed stiles to solve the problem of both design and function.
The same varieties of plants that once grew on the site have been planted in the front courtyard on the north side and the south courtyard. This is intended to preserve the history of the site and links with the past in the minds of these living here, even though the house itself has been rebuilt.
The trees, together with the vines and shrubs planted in the scattered gardens and terraces, create a landscape responsive to the ‘seasons and provide a dramatic backdrop to everyday life.
The client, Hirotaka Kidosaki, is himself an architect whose works have been awarded many prizes. Why then did he commission Ando instead of designing the house himself?
In an interview, Kidosaki answered as follows. “There would have been a reluctance to speak out and conflicts of interest had I tried designing a house for my relations. Instead, as the person in charge on the client side, I concentrated on being a coordinator and producer, clarifying the wishes of relatives and communicating them to the architect.”
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Kidosaki sees his own house with the cool detachment of a professional. A surgeon, no matter how skilled, would never operate on himself. Kidosaki introduced an outsider, that is, Ando, precisely because it was a house for himself and his relatives. The move was insightful.
Ando so far has not designed a detached house for himself. Designing a house for another architect is a curious and interesting problem.