Imagine living in a house that was only half finished, with no walls or closed doors to come between you and the rest of your family. A thought-provoking new project from Japanese studio Yamazaki Kentaro Design Workshop asked one young family to do just that.

Located in Kashiwa, in Chiba Prefecture, the unfinished house was designed to break down the walls within family life. The house’s layout is formed using four open timber boxes, with each box divided into two layers.

The boxes face inwards to a central space which serves as the hub of the family home. Kentaro’s intention was to provide flexible living areas for a growing family, with multi-function spaces that can be adapted to their needs.

The first layer of each box has set functions: there is a kitchen, bedroom, plumbing area, and workspace. The second layer has intentionally been left blank so that the family can create spaces that suit their needs: a larger wardrobe, a playroom for children, or other areas that match their hobbies and daily needs.

The children’s room, in particular, should be left up to the child to design, according to the architects.

The boxes all face inward to a central gathering point, which functions as a living and dining area. The position of the boxes was also deliberately chosen so that the inhabitants have views of surrounding greenery or the sky, rather than their neighbor’s homes or windows.

As the family inhabits the space, the house begins to change and adapt to their needs. The architects also wanted the building to foster more engagement and interaction within the family unit, with the building changing “as you design and live in it”.

“Clothes, kitchen goods and other things related to their hobbies can be freely placed, and their living space can be filled with things that promote enjoyment and happiness in their lives,” Kentaro says.

“This house … creates a space where I hope the family and the building itself can grow close together.”

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