Katsuhiro Miyamoto and Associates - The Grappa House Print
Wednesday, 19 December 2007 19:00


This project by Japanese Architect Katsuhiro Miyamoto is a great example of construction in a difficult site.

Located in the Japanese city of Takarazuka, the site is a narrow triangle of land surrounded by a densely built neighborhood. The irregular Urban zone was divided in rectangular parcels of land, the site is a secluded lot that is hard to use is left over Katsuhiro Miyamoto describes the site as “heta-ti” (hull land) – fragment of land that is left over. Surmounting the shape of the land, the restrictive regional building code, and a tight budget, the Architect produces a smart spatial organization, layered on two floors and two basements. Making the most of the site, the project is home of a three-generations family of six.

Site plan.jpg

By trimming the corners (described by the Architect as the simple rule of “sumi-kiri”), the house is relieved from two acute angles that are hard to use as an indoor space. The dimension of the rooms was set to the requirement of their respective functions making the size of the trimmed corners different at each level. The edges of external walls changed angle at each corner to fit the size of the enclosed space. Simply following the functional requirements and implementing the “sumi-kiri” concept enriched the shape of the project.



By skewing their edges the exterior walls they appear to be inclined, giving the optical illusion of an intricate shape, while the reality is quite simpler. plan trim.jpg

The house aligns its openings to the open spaces left between the neighboring houses. By gathering these small openings within the dense development, it gets its own breathing space. This concept is called “syakkei” – comes from Japanese gardening "borrowing" mountains, etc. for a background. The house seems to extend itself into these open spaces thus helping it to integrate within its environment.






Making things more challenging was an existing retaining wall, previously built on the northern side of the site. Tearing it down would have put a hole in the budget, and it could not be reused to support the new project. The wall was therefore used as a mold, and the new retaining wall was fit inside of it.



Making the most of what the site and its surroundings had to offer required time and effort throughout the different phases of the project. Katsuhiro Miyamoto made an analogy between this house, built on what was considered an unusable piece of land, and the process of wine making. In the process of transforming the grapes into wine, every effort and every detail undeniably affects the final result. He called therefore the project “the Grappa House”.


Project Credits:

Project Name: grappa
Location: Takarazuka, Hyogo, Japan

Principal-in-charge:Katsuhiro Miyamoto / Katsuhiro Miyamoto & Associates
Project team manager:Takenori Uotani / Katsuhiro Miyamoto & Associates

Collaborator: Masahiro Miyake / y+M design office

Structural Engineering: Masaichi Taguchi / TAPS

Contractor: Yasutake Kensetsu

Floor Areas:
First Floor:38.93m2 (419sqft)
Second Floor:35.53 m2 (382
Basement Floor:20.12m2 (216sqft)
(under floor storage: 20.12 m2) (216sqft)
Total Floor Area 114.70m2 (1234sqft)
Building Area 50.36m2 (542sqft)
Site Area 116.07m2

Exterior:polyurethane waterproofing
Interior:cloth, exposed concrete, tatami mattress, strip flooring

Structure wood, reinforced concrete



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Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 January 2011 10:05