A house is a “refuge for the mind.” The House in a Plum Grove appears as a white closed cube as it is located in one of the corners of the site. The door is fused with the wall, the doormat and a small cantilever being the only signs of its presence.
Furthermore, instead of conventional windows, a few flat, square cuts are made on the exterior walls, without any seeming order. The logic comes from the inside. Refusing to create stereotyped rooms with a collection of arranged furniture, Sejima proposed to reduce each room to particular furniture or an action. For instance, the bedroom of the children is composed of one room-bed and a room-table. In that way, 17 different rooms were created, which together were arranged on a 77.68 m2 floor area and distributed on two floors with the tearoom on the roof. Having such a small surface, it was used to its maximum.
The structure of the house is built with steel sheets, which reduces the thickness of the external walls to 50 mm and the interior walls to 16 mm. In that way, the structure, walls and the floors merge together and each part appears to have the same weight.
Interpreting the idea of ‘a one room studio’, the architect connected the individual rooms. She made cuts in the internal walls of the adjoining rooms, and left them without any glass. This offered new possibilities. Some rooms look outside through another room’s window. The air flows freely through these openings from room to room, and the boy or his cat can enter or exit through these openings at will. No space is shut off completely. Consequently, offering such a choice of different actions, the idea of privacy turns elastic.
This house links to Sejima’s research about the built contemporary house in our information society. For her, information society is mainly about not seeing. That is, the definition between spaces rather than marking boundaries. It is about creating transparencies in planning the house with non-transparent materials, as she did, for instance, in the daughter’s room where the feeling for depth is eliminated. Here, one can look into the next room through the opening in the steel wall, which is finished in such a way that it makes the room itself look flat, like a suspended image against the wall. When a passer-by walks by the window, suddenly the space between the window and the opening in the wall becomes real.