Fractal Kyoto: tiny cube hut as house inside office building

When Tada Masaharu and Shojiro Endo began renting a crumbling machiya (a traditional townhouse typical of Kyoto, Japan), they wanted to preserve the wooden structure for their architecture and design practices while carving out a living space for Endo that wouldn’t be obvious to clients. Their solution: they built a 7-square-meter cube hut within the original structure.

Housing Endo’s bed, closet and small kitchen, the cube closes up completely- it’s one wooden window swings shut- so the structure easily passes unnoticed by visitors and clients.

Outside the “home”, the space is all office space divided by the cube. In front of it, there’s a multi-functional reception area which can be converted to extra work space thanks to a table on rollers. Behind the cube, is the main office area with custom, DIY furniture: shelving inspired by Japanese cards, tables with built-in hard drive storage and a concrete sink.

At the back of the office, the duo built sliding shoji-style doors- created without handles so as to appear an all-white wall. When opened, they reveal a backyard garden and the home’s original bathroom.

Masaharu and Endo explain that they would have liked to have restored the machiya to its original condition, but this would have required a bigger budget (beyond what they could afford as renters) and they also wanted to try this mix of old and new.

They did remove a false ceiling to expose the original wooden beams and ceiling. This area has now become a playground for Niko, Endo’s cat, whose home is on top of the cube.

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