House made of bookcases

Kazuya Morita Architecture Studio designed this bookshelf-lined house in Osaka for a collector of books on Islamic history, designing a structure where books could line every surface. WANT.
In order to satisfy this demand effectively, we designed a lattice structure made from 25mm thick laminated pine-board which serve as book-shelves. The dimensions of each shelf are as follows: 360mm height, 300mm width and 300mm depth. All of the architectural elements in this space (stairs, windows, desks, chairs, etc) have been designed on the basis of this shelf scale, with the aim of achieving geometrical harmony which is comparable to Islamic Architecture. This innovative structural system affords not only large amount of book storage, but the possibility of flexible floor level which can be delivered from every height of bookshelf. Each space for different activity rise up helically, giving the impression of exploring a wooden jungle gym.

The original image of this structure is derived from the Japanese woodcraft of Kumiko. The structural integrity against an earthquake is provided by a panel of plywood board nailed on the shelf. Initially, the horizontal resistant force guaranteed by the panels was examined in a real-scale model. Further to this, an analysis of the whole structure was performed in order to determine the placement of the windows and panels. The inter-locking laminated pine-board was manufactured precisely in advance and assembled on-site. Similarly, the pyramid-shaped roof was assembled on-site, from 12 pieces of prefabricated wooden roof panel. The completed roof has a thickness of only 230mm and sensitively covers the whole space like the dome of a Mosque.

shelf-pod (via Core77)


  1. Outdated? I love bookshelves, and we’re lucky enough to have a beautiful library built into one room of our home. However, with the rush to digital media, and a drop in physical books sales I can’t help but to wonder if these sorts of things are going to become more and more relics of a more physical past, only of interest to collectors of antiquities……

    1. You will never delete books from those who love them, children may eventually grow up without ever smelling the scent pulped tree, glue, ink and dust, that is the smell of my summers in the library of my home town. But all they will have to do is walk into one of our homes and they will know and maybe come to love that scent again.

    2. No not going to fade away into the past units will just hold Cd’s and DVDs instead of books

    1. One overlooks these petty details when one is reading, and then mom makes us feel guilty

  2. Wait…the floor can be the height of any of the shelves? Zowie. Also WANT. I have 17 more boxes of books and other media in my garage on top of the 17 I already hauled into my office and storage shed. A house like this could swallow those books and still leave me a few more lifetimes of collecting.

  3. Having those tables be the same dimensions as the bookcase nooks is a bit dizzying, but I LOVE that part of the floor is a desk (cf. chair at the bottom of the image above). Also: shouldn’t there be a ladder somewhere, or does that contravene some aspect of Kumiko or Islamicism? What of the pattern of white backing squares?

    1. Indeed! Doesn’t look like they allowed at least a slit at the back of every shelf, as per industry standard, to allow the dust to fall down the back. I also wonder if they remembered to allow for the “X” tonnes of paper weight once the shelves are full. Many are the buildings that have needed (or have suffered!) severe modification due to that classic boo-boo.

    2. LOL…if one can afford to have a house like this built, one can afford to have someone come in and dust it. For the rest of us…I have four huge bookcases in my little home and it takes a real effort to keep up with them. ;>)

  4. That’s exquisite! That’s my lair right there, except with more windows in the roof.

    Finally a worthy successor to Henry Petrosky’s “The Book on the Bookshelf”: the house on the bookshelf.

  5. This something that I love, when people become creative and make and build things that one would never think of doing. And there is so much storage space for anything!

  6. Very cool, but also… cold? If there is no wall beyond the shelves, then the books will be pretty much the only insulation.

    1. Welcome to Japan where insulation is practically unheard of ;-). Well, maybe now that people move away from nuclear energy…

  7. Yeah I hate to play the downer here, and it is a brilliant idea in principle, but this has all hallmarks of design by someone who’s never had to do his or her own housework.

    Ventilated glass doors would reduce the dust and better protect the books, preferably UV-coated frosted glass because – trust me on this – anyone who owns that many books will get sick of staring at the spines eventually.

    Also, how do you access anything above the fifth shelf? I see no rails or ladders.

    1. “…preferably UV-coated frosted glass because – trust me on this – anyone who owns that many books will get sick of staring at the spines eventually.”

      What a bizarre notion. I’ve never gotten sick of the spines of the books lining my living room. Why should we trust you on this? Do you have overwhelming anecdotal evidence?

  8. You dust it with a leaf blower. Just make sure to have paperweights for anything you leave on the desktop!

  9. I love the idea, but all the shelves are the same size? Where do I put my oversize books? My tiny paperbacks?


  10. I always figured the bookshelves in Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town were a personal fantasy.

  11. @anon with an air compressor, of course

    and two… for a few dollars more you could put offset screwin bacK plates behind certain on used shelves that would hold pictures or whatnot.

  12. “a structure where books could line every surface”

    EVERY surface? That ceiling is shockingly book-free.

  13. From the article…

    “In addition to its unique structure, the outer wall employs the construction techniques of a traditional Japanese storehouse Dozou. The bamboo net wall foundation layer was attached to the lattice structure and the clay and straw mixture was applied to the foundation by the trowel. Then the red cedar panels forms exterior wall. The interior clay wall was finished with white plaster. These techniques are in accordance with urban fireproofing specifications, as well as maintaining a suitably humid environment for the storage of books.”

  14. Wow, imagine dusting all those shelves… Pretty great though, I would love this as my house!

  15. Funny, the picture reminded me immediately of a guest house I spent a week in. The walls (including stairway sides) were retrofitted with bookshelves up to the second-floor ceiling… and filled with books about Eastern religions, Buddhism mainly.

    This was the servant’s quarters of a pair of 18th century historical buildings in New England, and the rule is the outside, and especially the part facing the street, has to keep looking like it did, but not the inside. For instance there was a skylight in the room upstairs.

    It is totally cool, a religious experience, to spend time in a house made of books.

  16. WANT.

    Oh yes. Me want.

    This put the library I built to shame. Now I have a massive case of bookcase envy }:-(

    Can’t let the religious folks win the DIY race. We have to close the shelf gap, people. I’ll be in FreeCAD if anyone needs me…

  17. The other houses in the website are very nice as well.

    The pentagonal house is less than 90 sq metres, but looks airy and spacious. Trying sucha thing in London (or any UK town really) would marr you with complaints from your neighbours with councils too afraid to offend their conservative audience. Argh.

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