October 3, 2005

The 9-Tsubo House With Kids? [That's 320 sf, btw]

9tsubo_house.jpgHaving a kid in a 400-square foot apartment? That's nothing. In Japan, they've been designing houses for kids plural to fit on 320-sf lots since 1952--and loving it.

A Japanese firm Commdesign has commissioned several architect/designers to create variations on a "minimum house" concept called the 9-tsubo house [tsubo is a unit of measure equal to the size of a tatami mat, about 35-sf] originally developed in 1952 by the architect Makoto Masuzawa. People can then order semi-customized versions for between $120-170,000.

This year's design [those Japanese also love buying houses online using only tiny little images--or maybe it's shown actual size?], by life+shelter, a Tokyo firm run by an architect couple (with two kids), addresses the theme, "living with kids." They set out to create a space that is fun, safe and has low ecological impact. Their model house went on display 10/1 at D-Akihabara, an old middle school that's been converted into a design museum.

While all these websites are in Japanese, you can run the URL's through Excite Japan's translator for a decent English approximation. [for English, change the option under the URL box; it's default setting is for E-to-J translation.]

D-Akihabara 9-Tsubo House exhibit, 10/1-10
9-Tsubo House project & sales
life + shelter [their 9-tsubo blog entry, via mocoloco]
A somewhat skeptical article, but hey, it's in English [asahi.com]
A brief intro to Masuzawa's 9-tsubo house concept [bookofjoe.com]


My wife and I lived in a 3.5 tsubo "monthly" apartment in Yokohama for 7 months... after that, I think I could handle a spacious 9 tsubo with the kid.

You've seen Japanese cribs, high chairs, etc... very compact. I'm sure that a family could use the space a lot more efficiently than the equivalent space in North America...

One tsubo is roughly the size of two jo, or tatami mats. A 9 tsubo space is about 19 mats, give or take. 19 jo is a lux space for young single folk...

[d'oh, thanks. and it appears the 9-tsubo thing originally referred to the lot/floorplate, not the interior (some of the designs have up to 17-tsubos of floorspace). It's also the case that there aren't enough lots that can accommodate the 3x3 house in Tokyo, so they had to make weird-shaped versions, too. -ed.]

Greg got the "tsubo=1 tatami" wrong, but he was right about the sqare footage; one tsubo is about 36 sq. feet...

I think the Japanese interior layouts do make pretty efficient use of space though; things like sliding doors, miniature appliances, etc make a huge difference. I guess the downside is you usually have a cramped refridgerator and no oven...

G;day...... having trouble with the websites.. trying to find pictures of interior of the updated Sumire-Aoi 9 Tsubo house.. apartently retro fitted to have bedrooms for the twin girls on the second floor.

Any other websites that you know of with floor plans?

Thanks, Ben

ps please respond to email address provided if possible, Ta

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