Photo: Yurika Kono

When a family asked Suzuko Yamada to design its new home on a small corner lot in a residential area of Tokyo, the architect thought back to a trip to Africa she’d taken several years ago and the unexpected local design she saw there. “I got the inspiration of how to live without walls or ceilings from a family of mountain gorillas in the forest of Rwanda,” says Yamada. “I decided not to make many walls covering the space but to use wooden structural elements, steel pipes, window frames, staircases, and all the materials of the house to envelope the life of the family in an urban situation.”