A Giant in Small Spaces

For Masaki Endoh, designing houses is like "giving a present to people who want to make changes in their lives." Particularly people who have been consigned to live in the cramped quarters that are typical of Japanese homes. "But that's the reason we make such an effort to create something innovative," says Endoh, 42, one of Japan's most gifted home designers. Case in point: his mysterious-looking Natural Ellipse, a white egg of a building that looms unexpectedly over neon-sign-speckled love hotels in Tokyo's trendy Shibuya district.

True to its name, the steel structure, encased in a groundbreaking design of reinforced fiber-glass...

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