Japanese architecture has always been about balance and minimalism, foregoing unnecessary flourishes to focus on functionality and harmony with the surrounding environment. As traditions evolved, and Japan entered the modern era the principles have remained the same even as the environment underwent dramatic change. With that in mind we look at the next house, a fantastic minimalist home in the concrete jungle of Kyoto, Japan.
Architect Masahiko Sawamura has taken his trademark style and applied to it a cutting edge residence. Nestled tightly between two properties, this high concept home features fascinating innovations in design that make no compromises on privacy, while still allowing the living area to be bathed in natural light. With an aesthetic that continues and develops his Kaleidoscope series, Kaleidoscope IV features slitted windows, straight lines, and a unique approach to light that we think looks simply stunning.
Let's take a look inside this masterwork and see how they did it!
Here we see architect Masahiko Sawamura's immediately recognisable style manifest as a family home, and we think it looks just great. With an impenetrable facade allowing for maximum privacy, the slitted, lit windows provide a fantastic design element that softens the appearance.
With the concrete surface providing a large canvas, we love how they have lit the sole tree from underneath, casting a dramatic shadow on the house.
As soon as you enter the purpose of the slits becomes clear, beaming light into the entrance, and unifying the exterior aesthetic with the interior.
Notice how the walls transition from the minimalist concrete outside to warm woodgrains, immediately changing your perception of the home, and inviting guests in.
As you walk in you enter the open plan dining room. Although the room has been broken up in order to provide a courtyard, the glass walls give the sense that we are in one open space, simultaneously in and outdoors.
The sparse design draws our focus outside to the simple and uncluttered courtyard, where two trees provide a link to nature, inviting reflection. On the courtyard walls we can see how they have developed the slit window motif with irregular spacing, and the large windows bring the pattern inside.
The living room leads outside with a massive sliding door, increasing the size of the room, while maintaining functionality. With only a small space available the designers have opted for sparse furniture, allowing for flow around the sofa.
Here is also where you would need to make some lifestyle choices; the bench across the room seems like an obvious place for a television, but we think that the tranquility of the room is better served by remaining just the way it is.
The trick with minimalism is that its apparent simplicity often belies complex design solutions, and this courtyard is no different. This house is all about privacy, with no windows facing out to the public, but this presents a challenge in allowing natural light to enter.
By building a courtyard between the living room and dining area light is allowed to pour in, reflect off of the white surface of the house and courtyard walls, and flow into the home. We think this is a great solution to maintaining maximum privacy in a light airy home.
We really love how all of the design features mesh so harmoniously here in the heart of the house. The concrete exterior makes an appearance, blending beautifully with the woodgrain we first saw on entering, and the neutral theme finds another expression in the mat on the dining room table. There is no extraneous clutter in the kitchen, everything is discrete and tidy, just like the rest of the home.
If you enjoy watching master architects at work as much we do, why don't you check out another one of Masahiko Sawamura's masterpieces!