Mini House, designed by Atelier Bow-Wow, is located in Nerima-ku, Tokyo, a dense residential suburb, on a small site of 77 square meters. The house covers only 41 square meters of the site but has a total floor area of 90 square meters over two and a half floors.
The design draws on Atelier Bow-Wow’s theories of Void Metabolism and The Fourth-Generation House which puts an emphasis on the form and nature of the spaces between buildings as well as their internal qualities. It is an award-winning design (16th Yoshioka Prize, Gold prize of house architecture 1999 from Tokyo Architect Society) and has come to be recognised as typical in terms of the practice. Mini House displays a succinct use of space for particular functions.
Mini house sits on a small site with a 4m wide road to the east, a private path to the south and an open field to the west which is to become a ring road. The house sits with its main volume in the centre of the site with volumes projecting from each side mediating the house’s relationship to its surroundings. For example on the east façade facing the road the projecting volume sits above the ground creating a space to park a car underneath, the name mini refers to a mini-skirt, in that the building sits above the space below. Stairs run along the southern edge to allow access with windows that open on the small voids, articulated by the form allowing natural light regardless of future development on surrounding sites.
Mini House will have a short life span as it was built on land that is reserved for the new construction of the Kan-8 Loop Road. Because of this it uses cheaper materials such as plywood in its construction. This also prompted Atelier Bow-Wow to begin research into what they have coined 'Pet Architecture' left over and fragmented spaces that would be the result of this road cutting through the site.