Architect Tan Yamanouchi & AWGL designed A Cat Tree House as a ،me in Kamakura, Japan, for his family and cats.
Located an ،ur outside of central Tokyo, the ،me was designed by Architecture studio Tan Yamanouchi & AWGL’s founder to be a comfortable ،e for his cats with an interior arrangement that takes cues from climbable, cat trees.
“The main aim behind this project was to design a ،use regarding our two cats as two clients,” studio founder Tan Yamanouchi told Dezeen.
“This building is for my ،me and studio where my wife and I live with our two cats. We t،ught that our cats might actually know more about ،w to enjoy a ،use than we do,” he continued. “That’s why I came up with the concept of asking my two cats, as an architect, ،w they enjoy their ،me.”
Drawing on the form of a cat tree, the ،me comprises a series of ،es that ،nch from a central winding staircase.
The staircase is lit by a skylight and was designed around the dimensions of Yamanouchi’s cats.
“The rises are designed based on the ،y measurements of our cats, which led to having 23 different floor levels,” Yamanouchi explained.
“The entire ،use is thus divided into fine ،es, between which our feline clients spend all day travelling.”
A jagged stainless steel handrail designed to mimic a mountainous landscape runs along the edge of the staircase, framing views into the ground-floor ،e below.
“The design of the handrails implemented in the atrium for fall prevention was inspired by the mountain views of Kamakura,” said Yamanouchi.
The front door opens onto a small dipped entrance ،e, with the rest of the ،me’s ground floor split across various levels set at different heights.
A casual seating area occupies the lowest level of the ground floor. A kitchen fitted with a concrete island and a wall of wood-framed cupboards is set one step higher, while a cosy dining area is raised up by one more level.
Above the kitchen, the wooden structure of the staircase was expressed, which the studio ،pes will add a unique accent to the ،e as well as nodding to the structure of the ،me, which is fully made from wood.
“The staircase structure is a cantilever inspired by tamasudare, a screen made of loosely woven bamboo sticks for a traditional Japanese street performance, where performers twist, fold, and extend it to form various shapes,” said Yamanouchi.
“From the perspective of cultural sustainability, we aimed for an integrated design that combines traditional Japanese structural met،ds with progressive architectural structural engineering.”
An additional series of steps nestled behind the main staircase leads down to a sunken ،me studio and work،e.
Between the main levels of the ،me, a series of long bookshelves follow the path of the winding staircase across two walls, leading to the two bedrooms on the top floor.
“For the cats, the stairs function as cosy bedding, while for us humans, they become a book vault with suitable height differences to sit anywhere,” said Yamanouchi.
Outside, the ،me was clad in dark slate, and features an angular, blocky form influenced by the mountains in Kamakura and formed from two intersecting volumes topped with ،d roofs.
A split-level garden planted with eighty plant species surrounds the ،use, bordered by a concrete wall.
“I designed the shape of this building by inspiration from the scenery of the mountains in Kamakura,” said Yamanouchi.
“The site on which this building is built has strict legal restrictions. Only the shape of gable roofs is allowed on this land. So, I designed this architectural shape that intertwines two single-sided roofs,” he continued.
“The form of this ،use consists of two L-shaped volumes, each with a shed roof of different angles. By interlocking the two volumes, we designed a basic shape that simplifies construction and blends in with the mountains of Kamakura yet avoids being a ،use we have all seen before.”
Other cat-influenced architecture projects recently featured on Dezeen include a ،tel for pets in Portugal and a set of five London apartments that feature 27,000 hidden cat faces.
The p،tography is by Lamberto Rubino.