Japanese Architect Designed His House with Earthquake-Proof Climbable Bookshelf

Earthquake-Proof Climbable Bookshelf House


Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves are lovely, and can act as a robust focal point in any home. But accessing the high shelves can be a problem. The common side-kick has always been ladders, which can also add character and charm. But for smaller homes like in Japan they can be a nuisance, occupying too much space for not enough usage. Designed by Japanese architect Shinsuke Fujii, House in Shinyoshida is a small, contemporary home with a slanted wall, situated in a hillside neighborhood of Yokohama, Japan. Incorporated into the western-facing diagonal wall is a prominent floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, which not only allows the homeowners to easily access hard-to-reach books—with its shelves also acting as a ladder—but also ensures that the books won’t spill out in the event of an earthquake, which is common in this part of Japan.

Japanese architect Shinsuke Fujii came up with a simple, yet brilliant solution that solves another problem too: earthquake safety.


The “House in Shinyoshida,” as it’s called, named for the neighborhood in Yokohama where it stands, was conceived shortly after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake. The client, who happened to be an avid book lover, approached Fujii with the task to design a home around a large bookshelf that’s both easily accessible but also one that won’t spill all the books if there’s ever a tremor.

The solution was to slant the entire western-facing façade and create a built-in slanted bookshelf whose shelves also function as a ladder. The slant allowed family members of all ages to climb up and reach books, but also keeps the books from falling should an earthquake ever shake the home. The slanted façade also had the effect of creating an open feeling in the family room, where the home’s high perch allowed for plenty of sunlight to enter through the large windows.


The bookcase acts as a design focal point, but it’s integral to the structural stability of the home. Reinforced with concrete and wood, it extends onto an upper level, which features a sunlit lounge. Each slanted upright of the bookshelf acutely extends into exposed roof beams, accentuating the home’s bold interior lines.


Japanese Architects Shinsuke Fujii have designed a home featuring a slanted floor-to-ceiling, earthquake-proof bookshelf.


Outside, the structure’s oblique exterior features vertical strips of metal cladding in matte charcoal grey. The thin, slotted windows of the kitchen and dining areas provide privacy from the street, while the larger upper windows flood the space with light. Altogether it makes a perfect oasis for the bibliophile with an eye for natural minimalism.




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