Located in a quiet residential area in Japan, on the north side of the distant Mount Sefuri—belonging to the Tian Shan mountain ranges— this home provides a family dwelling. It employs a traditional Japanese House typology, but reinterprets it in a contemporary and relevant way.
By configuring the building in an L-shaped plan, the designers could ensure the privacy and security toward the road-side while developing an intimate and protected courtyard to the south-side. Courtyards become a prominent feature and driver in the design: it is a home that prioritises outdoor living. The four beautiful, and transitory, seasons of Japan can be appreciated in full.
The exterior is elegant: a beautiful composition of volumes crafts interesting in-between spaces, the low-slung pitched roofs recede into the horizon, and the timber cladding has a charming natural asperity.
Japanese architecture, more so than its counterparts, tends to acknowledge and value the space in-between. Rather than mere leftover spaces, the void is seen as a space itself.
Here we see that the house has a slight elevation off the ground. This means a single step onto the deck is needed in order to enter the home: a device used in Japanese architecture to denote threshold, separating in from out. This is referred to as Shiiki in Japanese.
Separating activities and preserving their difference, Shiiki elevates the moment of betweenness; between in and out, oneself and their environment or situation. This is a very subtle element of the design, but effective in its simplicity.
The interior is minimal, raw and honest. Minimalism is often attributed to the western art world, taking root post World War Two. However, in Japanese culture these notions date back much further, to the Higashiyama culture of the fifteenth century.
The honest expression of materials, leaving their raw asperity exposed, is characteristic of the aesthetic principle of wabi-sabi. Reflecting a deeper worldview, centered on an acceptance of transience and imperfection, it is thought to nurture authenticity through the acknowledgement of three things: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.
Looking back into the space we can appreciate not only the connection between the various internal spaces, but also the connection between the interior and the exterior.
The change in material is dramatic and elegant. The warm and alluring timbers of the interior are contrasted by the cool greys of the concrete on the exterior.
And how wonderful is that large square opening?! For more door and window ideas, take a look here!
The aforementioned relationships are appreciated with even more context in this shot. It's truly beautiful—spatially and aesthetically.
The employment of passive solar design principals means that a comfortable living environment is created throughout the entire house, year long.
What a lovely home—inside and out! If you would like to take a look at another charming minimalist abode then The Home that Proves Less Really Can Be More may pique your interest.