Shared Spaces in Hiramoto Design Studio’s Hopscotch House

Stretching to create separate but unified spaces, this minimalist residence located in Saitama, Japan, evokes a sense of journey for its residence.

  • March 4, 2019

  • Written by Arielle Abrigo

  • Photographed by Koji Fujii

The arrangement of spaces is fundamental to how homes are shaped, used, and perceived. A narrative is formed when spaces are structured to carry out specific effects on one’s perception. Architects make use of conceptual-formal patterns separately from a viewer’s experience, all the while organizing space from the standpoint of the observer or user. This act of recognition is connected to the sequential unfolding of information as one courses through these areas. In the Hopscotch House designed by Hiramoto Design Studio, space is more than an idea, and surely, beyond a delineated concept.

hopscotch house
Built for an intergenerational family, the design of the house affords independence for individual family members. Inspired by the geometry of a hopscotch game, the layout of the building was divided into several distinct program areas. Nonetheless, the residence still successfully maintains the consonance of all its spaces.

If one were to pinpoint what a space really is, one will be given a loose definition that stands for everything that widens or connects subsisting borders. Space opens up more possibilities; it is always in opposition to the hermetic and oppressing. The spaces of this residence that accommodate a family who had lived in their own but eventually decided to stay under one roof respond to division not through elimination, but by embracing the potential for the new. It is a place that has not been appropriated and is more than one can fill.

The architects wanted to design a space that allowed these people who were used to living alone to commune and seek privacy when needed. Similar to a hopscotch court, the layout of the home was sensibly divided into segmented parts, each with their own function. Since these divisions were joined with shifting positions, the empty spaces between were used as gardens and a pool. The pattern of volumes inside render pleasing cadences for its residents.

hopscotch house
The picture above features a genkan, a traditional Japanese entryway, which is a combination of a porch and a doormat. Commonly located inside the building and directly in front of the door, its primary function is for the removal of shoes before entering the main part of the house. On the left, a mirror has replaced the traditional getabako or shoe cupboard, and the right wall was modified to include a horizontal window that lets light in. During the low parts of the afternoon, the window is sure to cast faint silhouettes of the outside.

hopscotch house
Adjacent to the dining area is the living room, which has exposed ceiling beams in their varnished form. Aside from the textural detail, these impart a sense of history in the space, as this architectural element is characteristic of many old structures.

Led by principal architect Hideyuki Hiramoto, Hiramoto Design Studio has worked on many commercial projects, such as hotels, restaurants, and retail spaces. They participate not only in the area of architectural design, but also in interiors, products, and graphic design. “We have we have no boundaries to our design possibilities. We are responsible for creative direction for various firms from the entry phase of initial branding-construction, so we can provide a comprehensive design solution,” states the design studio.

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Hiramoto has placed the parts of the building in a 1+2+1+2+1 layout like a hopscotch game. By doing this, he was able to lead the house to several solutions. Since these divided parts were joined on each shifting position, with this train of spaces one could make some waists (joining/dividing points) and some pools (spaces with each function) in the house. “When you make an excursion within the house, you can feel refreshing rhythms. And a resident can relax in a pool which was chosen while maintaining a distance from others,” says Hiramoto.

hopscotch house
Like the rest of the parts inside the house, the kitchen is dominantly decorated in neutral tones. Here, closed sliding doors next to the dining table capture views of the garden beyond, which is seamlessly linked to the kitchen for easy entertaining.

hopscotch house
One common feature of a Japanese house is the presence of sliding doors. In ancient times, these have dividing screens to partition large rooms. These partitions were eventually fitted into the walls, and to reduce the but inconvenience, grooves were included to allow the partitions to slide. Today, most sliding doors are made of paper squares fastened to a wood lattice that grants soft light to pass through.

The double position or what the design studio calls as “split parts” has created a patio that will certainly bring forth light and wind into the center of the house. Double spaces in this position are also useful as corridors for connecting between single units. For the Hopscotch House, Hiramoto punctuates the importance of measuring the distance of spaces, but also careful to note the retention of the narrative that enkindle opportunities for the residence to feel closer to others easily.

hopscotch house
The view of the house from the back. Caring for ease of access, a one-story house was requested. During the design process, the architect thought hard about how to bring light and wind into the center of the house, but eventually went for interconnected box-shaped areas graced with large casement and picture windows.

The design studio does not believe in highly imposing designs, but those that forward the essence of these designs. “We take feedback and research from the owners—their business plan, their business strategy, the site, company history and current trends, and then we can certainly provide the one and only answer to the project needs. We adapt this solution and build a concept which is valuable to society, so we can build “a sustainable strong design” because we start from the phase of creative-direction,” the design studio shares. B ender

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