House With 5 Retaining Walls / Kiyoaki Takeda Architects

House with 5 retaining walls / Kiyoaki Takeda Architects

© Masaki Hamada (kkpo)

© Masaki Hamada (kkpo)© Masaki Hamada (kkpo)© Masaki Hamada (kkpo)© Masaki Hamada (kkpo)+ 23




  • Area area of ​​this architecture project

    69 m²

  • Year Final year of this architectural project



  • Photographs

    Photographs: Masaki Hamada (kkpo)

  • Manufacturer brands with products used in this architectural project

    Manufacturer: IOC flooring, KYOEI LUMBER, Koshii, LIXIL, Toolbox

© Masaki Hamada (kkpo)© Masaki Hamada (kkpo)

Text description of the architects. A new home for a family with young couples and four children was requested at a location in the Setagaya Ward residential area in Tokyo. Most of the neighboring houses were built on flat land made up of huge concrete walls to accommodate the hilly terrain. However, no preparations for construction have been made at this specified location. Therefore, the earth was available even with a rough slope – a height difference of 3.5 m. Several small areas have been excavated to make the most of the nature of the site. These excavations revealed differences in height in the ground level and different retaining walls were designed for each level. Then “five small retaining walls” appeared on site, connecting nature and artifact with one another.

© Masaki Hamada (kkpo)© Masaki Hamada (kkpo)

The shape of each retaining wall is different, but all of them follow a flat structure reinforced by L- or T-shaped ribs and carry the earth load with their thickness, which is set as thin as possible. The thinness of the wall was an attempt to recognize the retaining wall – the building material – as an integral part of human habitat and to implement this wall inside the house despite its geothermal properties. As a holdover from the earth’s struggle and architecture to coexist, this complex boundary between them should be able to provide vivid moments in life in this habitat.


The architecture is stacked on top of this structure, with the shape of the earth being traced by the foundation and retaining walls. It consists of two layers, RC and wood. One space created by the lower RC structure is basically the underfloor space, but it is turned into an indoor space. As the building is also used as a living area together with the wooden structure, it offers a large atrium in which various jumping floors with different environments are housed.

© Masaki Hamada (kkpo)© Masaki Hamada (kkpo)

The retaining walls bring stable geothermal heat into the interior, with the ground behind being viewed as a continuous layer. However, the depth of each retaining wall was deliberately varied (buried, half way underground, etc.) to make the environment uneven. The wood construction provides an open frame that exposes the beams in the atrium and provides an option to add floor space in the future. The diverse environment and structure of the individual floors are combined in one living area. Residents would first feel the differences in each room and then explore their own way to manipulate and shape their own lives in that environment.

© Masaki Hamada (kkpo)© Masaki Hamada (kkpo)

I want to bring back the tactile feeling of living in a “place”. This cannot be achieved by just adding soil to the ground. I believe that this sensation can only be achieved if we as human beings are supported and enveloped by the structure of the earth, which emerged from the contrast between nature and artifact. For this house I was striving for an architecture that is filled with the life force that the earth itself takes root. Kiyoaki Takeda

© Masaki Hamada (kkpo)© Masaki Hamada (kkpo)

* Text translation: Mami Sayo

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