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Office Envisioned as a “Wooden Box Floating on Air”

Glass office in Japan

Challenged to build a beautiful, light-filled office on a narrow lot, architecture firm Atelier N turned to pine to craft a highly unusual structure that looks like it’s floating on air.

Glass office in Japan modern in a rural setting

The base area of the building measures a mere 355 square feet, but the interior feels surprisingly spacious and open thanks to the clever design. The top half, clad in wooden shingles, rests on a zig-zag of pine lumber enclosed by glass. The pine supports the load, allowing for a nearly unbroken expanse of glass on all sides.

Glass office in Japan with pine wood

Though it looks like a second floor from outside, the upper half of the building is actually a lid of sorts, like a box with the bottom cut off. It provides protection from the sun when it’s directly overhead in the heat of summer, but allows daylight penetration year-round, reducing heating costs in winter. Set on the edge of a rice field, the office takes advantage of a natural cooling effect fro the water.

Glass office in Japan hatch door

“The rural scenery passes through the building from the front road, and a quiet scenery spreads from the interior,” says the architect. “And the wind from the rice field goes through the room. Also, since this area is like a village of old farmers, neighbors greet me through the glass because I have been with them since I was born.”

Glass office in Japan plywood box

Inside, the pine is lightly finished, allowing its natural beauty to shine through and bringing some texture and warmth to structure otherwise comprised of glass, metal and concrete.

Glass office in Japan loft

A ladder leads up to a small loft, where a mattress offers a place to rest and nap, and a hatch door opens to let out any accumulated heat. The rest of the space is occupied by desks, lounge areas and a conference table. Sheer curtains can be drawn for privacy or to soften the incoming sunlight, if necessary. 

Glass office in Japan night

The whole project was achieved on a low budget, and although it’s a modern structure wedged between two more traditional houses, the office avoids detracting from the pastoral scenery.


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