The 12 Days of Architecture: #3 Karuizawa, Japan

Villa and Gallery by Makoto Yamaguchi Design
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Villa and Gallery in Karuizawa completed by Makoto Yamaguchi Architectural Design in 2003
Villa and Gallery in Karuizawa completed by Makoto Yamaguchi Architectural Design in 2003

Makoto Yamaguchi Design was comissisioned to build this house and gallery for two musicians, Hiroshi Okouchi and Himeyo Tokuzawa, near a resort town in Gumma Prefecture, Japan, where Tokyo residents spend their weekends and holidays. 

The stark white building eschews tradition in favour of open space and plain walls which cleanly cut through the surrounding forrest. Looking out into the valley and the mountains beyond, the building functions both as a dwelling and a space to display the pair's art collection as well as for entertaining and giving concerts.

The multifunctional use was made possible by sinking the bath and kitchen into the floors - making use of the sloping site - and avoiding blocking the views through the glass walls.

Since the completion of the building for Okouchi and Tokuzawa, Makoto Yamaguchi Design has expanded its enterprises to design wooden furniture, interior design and even graphic design - producing the poster for Tokyo Photo in 2009. Yamaguchi himself lectures at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and Shibaura Institute of Technology.


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