The 63.02 Degrees house by Schemata Architects is located in the dense urban jungle of Nakano, Tokyo, Japan. Completed in 2007, this enduring celebration of concrete and spatial efficiency highlights the raw beauty and tactility of Japanese minimalism. On a mere 48sqm site, I find the interaction of existing and introduced elements to be very Japanese; discreet, respectful and (surprisingly) playful. Understated and elegant, the transition between the three levels, materials and functions seems overtly effortless. I am particularly drawn to the consistency of the seamless palette of materiality. The dedication to the minimalist style is also to be congratulated. It is a much disciplined dedication indeed. Considering the site’s obligation to rigid context (being in Japan) it is refreshing to see space freed. Schemata Architects have re-invigorated their approach to the façade interaction with the streetscape. Purposely rotated (63.02 degrees) on this narrow restrictive site, the external walls deliberately open to maximize existing views and create landscape viewing portals. This place of quiet, in amongst a city of noise is perhaps the perfect epitome of what every house (rotated or otherwise) should aspire to.
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Located in Tokyo, Japan, the Long Tall House is designed by the Japanese architecture firm SPACESPACE. The home is sandwiched between two traditional residential buildings in a busy neighborhood. This home acts as a clean white escape from the chaos of the big city. As the name suggests, the house is long and tall. Five stories span across the 4 x 16 meter site. The home is partially built into a retaining wall, creating the condition for two floors of basement. The basement levels are made from concrete, while the upper levels are clad in white timber. The north and south facades are covered with aluminum panels that can be raised or lowered to shade the street-adjacent windows. The interior is elegant and functional. A narrow spiral staircase provides the circulation between floors. White walls and hardwood floors provide a lightness and livability to the space. All of the storage is hidden within or behind the walls. This house truly illustrates how to make the most out of tight spaces. The architects took an unusually shaped lot and turned it into a wonderful family residence. This house is both simple and complicated: simple because of the calming materials and clean...
100 Colors is a solo exhibition created by the French-born and Tokyo-based architect Emmanuelle Moureaux, as part of the 17-day art event Shinjuku Creators Festa 2013. As its name suggests, the installation is formed of 100 different hues of color along 840 sheets of paper neatly suspended from the ceiling, which were provided by leading Japanese paper manufacturer Takeo. The whole combination creates an amazing volume of vibrant color where each sheet creates a gradual transition to the next. Beneath the installation there are bean bags to invite visitors to watch and admire the piece from different perspectives. The 100 colors are also featured on the wall in small circles, allowing the visitors to indicate their preference in color.
Sekino Architects Office brings an absolute celebration of concrete to its combined House + Office structure in Tokyo. Staying true to the aesthetic that has become typified of Japanese architectural form, this structure is one of absolute minimalism. The clean lines and open voids acting as internal courtyards connect spaces through bridges and uninterrupted rail-work. Comprised of reinforced concrete and glass, House + Office sits on a site just over 800 sqm, providing a very generous, particularly for Japanese standards, 550 sqm of internal floor area. Both the House and Office components of this beauty seem to coexist in an effortless harmony. There is also an overt zen-ness to this space and the experience of moving throughout. This is an applauding example of Sekino Architects Office’s consistent discipline and restrained deliberation. Photography courtesy of Hiroyuki Hirai.
Drawer House, designed by the prominent Japanese designer Nendo, responds to the limited housing situation in Tokyo. Using the concept of drawers, Nendo has designed an elegant home that allows functional elements to slide from the wall into a central living space. Several rooms worth of objects and furniture store easily in the back wall of the home, therefore only the “drawers” necessary for the task at hand are visible. The facade of the home is composed of a simple wood screen that filters light and maintains the residents’ privacy. This straightforward yet unexampled interior design creates an uncluttered space, while allowing the residents to live comfortably in a very small building. Drawer House is yet another impeccable work in Nendo’s extensive portfolio.
Called Kiritoushi House, this small structure in Japan doesn’t reveal much from the street. The front of the home features a dark facade broken only by a sculptural cutout that holds the entrance. Designed by the Tokyo firm Sugawaradaisuke, the house is designed to allow the residents to live in tandem with the surrounding environment. The dark facade allows the home to sit unobtrusively on its site. A large opening in the back of the structure brings in light and connects the home with the outdoors. The simple forms and materials of the Kiritoushi House create a lovely design that is artful yet not overly fussy. I love how the home appears guarded at the entrance, yet is entirely open in the back of the site. Overall, this is a handsome structure that works beautifully with the natural environment.
This unique structure in Tokyo is a smart renovation of a traditional Japanese home. Called simply Arrow, the renovation features a second floor living space accessed by a dramatic entrance staircase. The existing structure on the ground floor has been transformed into a photography studio. A unique skylight and floor-to-ceiling windows flood the home with soft, natural light. Designed by Apollo Architects & Associates, Arrow effectively achieves a work-life balance. It is rare to find peace and privacy in the dense neighborhoods of Tokyo, especially when the house must function as a home and studio. The division of program, window placement, and unique entrance create a structure that is as practical as it is beautiful.
The Fukasawa House, located in a suburb of Tokyo, looks simple and unassuming from the street. On the interior, however, this home is a design marvel. Designed by Japanese based architects MDS, the house experiments with the characteristics and limitations of wooden structures. Fukasawa House uses V-shaped posts to support beams constructed from common timber. This arrangement allows for a open, large rooms that are divided by the wooden posts rather than solid walls. Wood framed structures are often an obstacle for modern designers. MDS took this obstacle and turned it into a playful, daring structure. The use of wood in this home allows for an aesthetically pleasing environment. But the ideas behind this residence are the true driving force of the design.
idea ink is a series of Japanese books focusing on the theme of “ideas of the future”, published by Asahi Press and designed by Tokyo-based design studio Groovisions. The books focus on themes from gastronomy; environment and social issues to information graphics and even love and the quest for marriage outside of Japan. The graphic design for each book is clean and crisp, yet colorful and alive at the same time. A refreshing approach considering the excess of graphic information in a city such as Tokyo, yet still coherent with Japanese philosophies of simplicity and elegance in style. Groovisions also have Muji as their clients, another Japanese company notable for its minimalistic products. I particularly love the monoweight lines of the illustrations and the pastel color pallete. One of the things I love in Japanese design is the potency of “silent” designs, and to me this definitely falls into that category.
Recently I have been writing about residences which use minimalist design to focus the user’s attention inwards, rather than on the outer landscape. Today I will continue this trend by presenting yet another home which seeks to shield itself from its surrondings. Located in Tokyo, “Ring” is a simple home designed by Apollo Architects and Associates. The home gets its name from a large, cantilevered wall which circles the second story. The wall projects out from the top story; creating a covered entrance and hidden balcony. Inside, a simple floating staircase takes center stage. The staircase leads from the entrance on the ground floor to the living areas on the upper floor. The bedrooms rest privately on the ground floor. “Ring” is just one of the many innovative residences designed by Apollo and Associates. The Japan-based architects seem to have a knack for combining conceptual design with functional homes. I love how this home derives its form from such a basic shape. “Ring” is surely a soothing and peaceful place to dwell.
Today we’re taking a small trip to Japan, to meet the work of a great minimalist Japanese architect Katsufumi Kubota and more precisely the T-House, a housing project located in Kanagawa prefecture southwest of Tokyo. It is a monolithic, two-storey reinforced concrete construction, built on the slope of a hill, which takes great advantage of the surrounding view through a wide opening on the first floor. I love the contrast between the clean and crisp atmosphere of the interior and the natural environment. And what could be more impressive than a swimming pool at the house entrance? The project was awarded the Dedalo Minosse International Prize 2007/2008 Special Prize.
Tokyo based Japanese designer Makoto Koizumi has created this beautifully simple and award-winning cookware series – Kaico. The series includes a tea pot, coffee pot, pasta pot with a steel strainer insert, as well as various sauce pans. Created in white enamel coated steel with maple wood handles, the Kaico series certainly has a classic yet rudimentary aesthetic to its pieces, as well as being durable and thermal-efficient. Because of the smooth, semi-gloss finish, the cookware is also easy to clean. These would undoubtedly be a welcome addition to my kitchen from a visual perspective, but I’d be interested to know if anyone has previously bought any pieces from the Kaico series and what their thoughts are.