6 Tsubo House, Tokyo

The 6 Tsubo House, located in the bustling district of Yotsuya in Shinjuku, Tokyo, is an exceptional dwelling that showcases how creative design can make even the smallest living spaces feel comfortable and spacious. Designed by Arte-1 Architects, the narrow three-story house, measuring just 56sqm/603sqft, was built for the client, a young family of four who desired a small yet open house with a connection to the outdoors.

To maximize the limited space, Arte-1 staggered the rooms on the upper levels, allowing a 5m high ceiling in the living area and extra storage space in the stairway and beneath the kitchen. The designer avoided partitioning spaces by creating separation through the use of colour and materials, giving each area a unique ambience. The house features an atrium that extends up to the third floor, creating a café-like space that includes the living and dining rooms. This is accessed via a staircase.

The original staircase was placed at the end of the dining table. It was a straight concrete staircase and felt imposing so we chose a helical-shaped staircase that dates back to the 1900s. It was adapted to the dimensions of the apartment by a craftsman from Normandy. The shape allows us to gain space and brings a charm to the living room.

The kitchen is elevated to separate it from the living room, and professional-grade appliances, including a powerful oven by Viking, a gas cooktop, and a commercial range hood, were installed to cater to the client’s love for cooking. The stainless steel finish makes for easy cleaning, and the space below the kitchen provides additional storage.

A staircase leads to the bedrooms, with a niche for books made using the dead space in the stairs. The children’s room, used also as a playroom, features skylights and bright colours, while the master bedroom, designed to promote sleep, has built-in storage along the side of the wall.

The staircase continues to a rooftop balcony, which boasts ample space for relaxing and entertaining, with wall panels that can be removed to create a bench seat or table.

Despite the size limitations, the team created a functional and comfortable home for the family, with priority given to simple things like room for children to play and a cosy living and dining area. The house is a testament to how innovative design can make the most out of even the smallest of spaces, offering both comfort and style.

It is important that architects adapt so that the lack of space is not a disadvantage. To do this, it is necessary to hide technology and take advantage of the available space to create additional storage. If we can transform these inner city spaces into desirable living options. We may be able to make use of existing buildings and bring people back into the cities.

Images by NeverTooSmall