Pillar House by Suzuko Yamada

Under the title “Arts & Life : Home for Living”, the life-size model of the Pillar House by Suzuko Yamada – a graduate student at Tokyo University of the Arts – and 1/20 models by other selected participants were exhibited at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum between July and September 2012.


The Pillar House is composed of eleven wooden columns – inspired bydaikokubashira (the main pillar of traditional Japanese farmhouses minka) – and three cascading floors. The house lacks internal walls – or even handrails, for that matter. The living spaces on each level steps over next, creating a diversity of spaces between. The precariously sloping floors challenge our assumptions about the home and would demand that occupants overcome disorientation within their daily routines.


The various furnishings that imply life within this structure make this exhibit look and feel like a post-disaster model room. In fact, we were struck by its similarity to the housing proposals that Toyo Ito and his team of collaborators are planning for the tsunami-affected region of northern Japan and are currently exhibiting at the Venice Biennale.

The large table on the ground floor is the size and appearance of one of the floor plates. It is a multi-functional surface that can be used simultaneously by the family members as a kitchen, dining table, or office.


The openness of the home (it would be enclosed by glass walls if it were to actually get built) reflects the recent trend in Japanese residential architecture to open the home to its surroundings. As in other recent houses, like House NA by Sou Fujimoto, the Pillar House would afford little privacy and demands a new concept of comfortable living.



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