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Building an Ultramodern House in Traditional Kyoto

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Faced with strict building codes, a family finds ways to work ultramodern design into a storied setting.

What do you do if you want an ultramodern house in ultratraditional Kyoto, the cultural heart of Japan?

That is the question that confronted Gaku and Yukiko Tomii, two 30-something dentists, who wanted to build a fun, unusual living space atop a hill minutes away from some of the most storied temples in the country.

Their answer: T-House, a 2,152-square-foot, $669,000 modernist cube of a dwelling, which meets Kyoto's strict design regulations on the outside but bends all the rules on the inside.

From the street, the simple lines and traditional white and dark-brown coloring of T-House help it blend with the traditional Japanese-style homes in the woody, suburban neighborhood of northwestern Kyoto where it is located. But the home's front door opens into a soaring three-story, glass-front atrium intersected at different levels by concrete compartments that serve as rooms built around a minimalist curved staircase.

"We wanted to create a big public space, and do something really fun and interesting on the inside," says the home's designer, Peter Boronski, a former New Zealand skateboard champion and surfer who came to Japan to study architecture in 1993.

Mr. Tomii, who grew up in the area and played on the site when it was still undeveloped woodland, bought the lot for about $313,000 in 2008. But he decided he wanted something more distinctive than the standard-looking homes that dot the hilltop. The Tomiis hired Mr. Boronski, whom they had met a few years after he established his Kyoto studio in 2004, and asked him to design something warm, bright and lively. READ FULL ARTICLE AT WSJ.COM

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