Totoro House: Japanese Concept of “Shakkei” that Connects Interior and Exterior

Totoro House 4

Located in Russell Lea, Sydney, CplusC Architectural Workshop has completed an alterations and additions project called Totoro House. This house is designed by adopting the Japanese concept of “Shakkei” which can connect the interior and exterior.


Totoro House 1

Totoro House 2

Totoro House 3

This house is an architectural exercise that can translate the close-knit bond of the client into the physical. The Japanese concept of “Shakkei” or “borrowed scenery” is adopted in this house, bridging and connecting the interior and exterior.



Totoro House 4

Totoro House 5

Totoro House 6

There was an awesome anime called My Neighbor Totoro animated by Studio Ghibli three decades ago. This anime taught us about the importance of relationships between friends, family, and nature. These relationships are manifested in this house, especially with the surrounding landscape and within the family.



Totoro House 7

Totoro House 8

Totoro House 9

A playful response to the disconnect between the rear yard and the original house is a resulting scheme in this project due to the downward sloping terrain. This terrain hinders the clients’ ability to connect their home to the garden.

The new extension in this house is used as a missing link between the two through a gradual vertical transition. The exterior and interior spaces of this house are negotiated gently by this transition.



Totoro House 10

The social spaces and master bedroom in this house are conceived as framed views’ catalyst toward the house’s rear yard while extensive openings are used to dissolve the threshold between the house’s exterior and interior. The spaces’ generosity is accentuated by highlight windows that draw warm light in during the days.



Totoro House 11

The design of this house combines kitchen, dining, and living into an interwoven space that flows into the rear yard seamlessly. Extended through the living, dining, and master bedroom, the circular motif can inform a framed transition between the exterior and interior.

The clients can get a sense of security and privacy on the western facade thanks to the climbers, creating a connection with outdoor spaces furtherly. There is also an expressive Australian hardwood timber screen that can create a comfortable level of separation and shelter in the east area.


Totoro House Gallery

Photography: Murray Fredericks and Ryan Ng