Stilt House by FT Architects

Diagonal Element and Time

Project Specs


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Appreciation towards FT Architects for providing the following description:


Nine-Square Grid on Stilts


The site sits at the foot of an ancient tomb near a large lake. The north side connects to the slope of the tomb, and the south side extends out to the rice fields. Further out to the rice fields, you can see the trains heading into the nearest station.

▼建筑主立面,Facade of the house © Shitego Ogawa

▼场地附近的火车站,The station near the site © Shitego Ogawa


▼结构模型 & 二层平面图,Structural model & First floor plan © FT Architects

The section of this house responds to these contexts; the living space is lifted to the first floor to make the best of the view, and the ground floor is an open piloti space. The first-floor plan is constituted by nine areas divided by columns and diagonal elements, allowing the house to respond to diverse living situations. The central space surrounded by the four columns has a contradicting character; it visually connects to the other areas through the diagonal elements, but it spatially feels disconnected from them.

▼一层是一个开放的架空空间,The ground floor is an open piloti space © Shitego Ogawa

▼朝田野敞开的视野,An open view towards the field © Shitego Ogawa


Structurally, in addition to proposing a structural frame supporting the raised floor, a new type of timber joint that could inlay a steel plate in the timber was devised. It enabled to bear load not on points but as an area. The four 240mm square columns bring the strength of traditional farmhouses, and it is also an effort to utilise the surplus large size timber.

▼外部楼梯,External staircase © Shitego Ogawa


Structural Frame


▼对角线元素,The diagonal elements © Shitego Ogawa © FT Architects

It was natural to assume that timber stilt houses with columns near the central area would be structurally challenging since there are very few precedents.  However, after conceiving the idea of shifting the diagonal elements from the joints of the structural frame, the design for the structure progressed amazingly smoothly. By moving the diagonal parts from the structural frame’s joints, it is possible to diffuse the stress from the joints and prevent the timber joints from becoming complex. Further, it enables people to go through under the diagonal elements.

▼主起居空间,Main area on the first floor © Shitego Ogawa


The Odd and the Accumulated 


How should we represent the diagonal elements in the architectural space? Shinkabe is a traditional expression for structures in Japan, which exposes the columns and beams on the wall’s surface:  Shinkabe would hide diagonal elements for reinforcement like braces behind the wall. However, if the diagonal elements are regarded as the main structure, they would be exposed. The question of how to represent the forgotten diagonal elements requires a new structural representation. This surpasses the usual dualism of exposing or hiding the elements.

▼二层门廊,The porch on the first floor © Shitego Ogawa

▼透过结构看起居室,View to the living space through the structural elements © Shitego Ogawa

▼餐厨区,Kitchen and dining area © Shitego Ogawa


You could see all the structures on the ground floor of this house because it is a piloti. The first floor is based on Shinkabe so that you could see the columns and the beams. However, the diagonal elements differ in spaces; they independently appear in the space, fly out from the exterior wall, and are embedded within the walls and furniture. They are represented as something between structure and living, which feels like the odd one out of the house. We were careful of selecting the position, and the size of the elements to have a strong presence but not intervene with daily life.

The diagonal elements embedded within the furniture © Shitego Ogawa

▼工作区,Working area © Shitego Ogawa

▼卧室,Bedroom © Shitego Ogawa

▼远观项目,Distant view to the house © Shitego Ogawa

▼一层平面图,Ground floor plan © FT Architects

▼二层平面图,First floor plan © FT Architects

▼剖面图,Sections © FT Architects


Project Name: Stilt House
Office Name: FT Architects
Office Website:
Social Media Accounts: instagram @katsuyafukushima
Contact email: katsuyafukushima
Firm Location: Tokyo, Japan

Completion Year: 2021
Gross Built Area (m2/ ft2): 82.81m2
Project location: Ibaraki, Japan
Program: House

Photo Credits: Shigeo Ogawa
Photographer’s Website:

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