Minimalissimo


Jillian Japka

True design needs no ornamentation.

House in Possanco is a contemporary home featuring a captivating array of architectural gestures. Designed by the prominent Portuguese firm ARX, this weekend home is located in the arid landscape of Possanco, Portugal. The structure is defined by a pure white facade with strategic carvings, which create windows and skylights. The pristine sheets of white are expertly constructed, allowing the entire building to exude the air of designed precision. Four patios cut through the bold form and are situated throughout the home. A triangular cantilever juts from the side of the building. It is an exciting piece, and it plays with the viewer’s sense of scale and structure. The interior is void of decoration. Instead, long and uniquely formed shadows are splashed along the walls like artwork. The highly geometric roof adds visual interest to any of the home’s interior rooms. The many windows and openings ensure plenty of natural light and views of the exterior landscape. The abstract nature of House in Possanco pushes the viewer to explore further. This is not a structure that can be admired casually: it requires one’s keen attention and an appreciation for the modern and spectacular. Photography by Fernando Guerra FG+SG.


Home 11 is an elegant dwelling in Amsterdam. The structure was previously a large garage. i29 Interior Architects renovated the garage into a modern apartment for two people. The color palette is defined by three materials: white sheetrock, natural oak, and gleaming black surfaces. The elevated kitchen is composed of wooden cabinets and a black island. Step down into the living room and you’ll find an oak wall with black shelving and a small fireplace. The doors to the bedroom and bathroom blend with the wood-clad walls. Skylights run across the ceiling and provide a plethora of natural light. To connect the home with the outdoors, i29 Interior Architects included a small outdoor patio and designed the living room carpet in a green mossy pattern. Home 11 is an incredibly posh dwelling. The materials and furnishings combine to give the home a luxury feel. The skylights are a wonderful addition. Never underestimate the power of simple materials, natural light, and great design. Photography by Ewout Huibers.


Plywood House is a distinct home refurbishment tucked among London’s traditional Victorian row homes. The exterior is comprised of brick and concrete punctured by single framed windows. These materials are splashed throughout the interior as well. Concrete and brick are wonderful raw materials that add visual interest inside and out. However, the most distinguishing feature of this home is its namesake: plywood. Plywood is one of the simplest yet most versatile construction materials. In Plywood House, it is used instead of sheetrock to form the walls and ceilings. The soft wood casts a warm light throughout the minimal interior. Designed by Simon Astridge Architecture Workshop, the living spaces of Plywood House are distributed across two stories. The first floor holds a cast concrete kitchen, dining, and living rooms. The master suite, structured entirely with plywood, fills the second story. I love when modest materials are allowed to take center stage. Plywood House creates a beautiful aesthetic from an often overlooked construction material. Perfect!


Aroeira III is an elegant dwelling located on a sunny, arid hilltop in Portugal. The home is designed by ColectivArquitectura, a small architectural office located in Lisbon, Portugal. The thoughtful design seeks to maximize sun exposure and work with the sloped landscape. The structure is u-shaped and divided among two low-lying levels. This building is refreshingly honest about its structure both inside and out. The reinforced concrete foundation is visible throughout the exterior, while steel support beams puncture the wood and glass facade. These classic materials continue on the interior. Exposed concrete walls and floors are juxtaposed with wood panelling and stairs. The floor to ceiling windows keep everything bright and airy. Aroeira III embraces a design that is as beautiful as it is timeless. This is surely a home that will be admired for years to come. Photography by FG+SG Architectural Photography.


A gorgeous white form is located in a hilly, rural area of Luxembourg. Simply called Luxembourg House, this structure is designed to create dynamic spaces inside and out. The home was designed by the infamous Richard Meier, an architect who has received worldwide recognition for his minimal buildings. Long walls of white tile and full length windows form the exterior structure. This layout anchors the home to its site and creates panoramic views of the environment. On the interior, the layout defines the public and private spaces. A large staircase rests inside a light-filled atrium; this staircase is the main mode of circulation throughout the home. The lower level of the house is mostly utilitarian: it contains parking and a fitness center. The living and dining rooms are nestled along a wall of windows on the ground floor, and the kitchen and playroom sit on the north side of this level. The uppermost story contains the bedrooms and study. Terraces on all floors embrace the light from the large windows and balconies. I love the thoughtful design of Luxembourg House. Every space in this structure was deliberately designed by Richard Meier and his team. The result is a house where every corner is full...


FREAKS Free Architects recently designed this one-story apartment in downtown Geneva, Switzerland. Completed this year, Geneva Flat is arranged to utilise every inch of space and does so brilliantly. The open floor plan is divided by thin white walls and panes of glass. Most of the walls serve more than one function. The walls become a wardrobe, bookshelf, and even a platform for the bed. The glass is a room separator but still allows each space of the apartment to feel connected. It also creates a bright and airy aesthetic throughout the home. Geneva Flat is decorated with monochrome furnishings and an artful light fixture. The gray and white palate of this apartment couldn’t be more simple. Yet, in a space as austere as Geneva Flat, every material is crucial to forming a comprehensive design scheme. Each element was chosen which great care, resulting in a composition that is both minimal and luxurious.


Taipei Apartment is a clean white apartment in Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan. The apartment was designed for a young couple by Tai & Architectural Design. The couple wanted a beautiful dwelling that didn’t require much renovation. The architects answered their request with a bright and causal living environment. Every surface of the apartment, from the floor to the ductwork in the ceiling, is painted white. The whiteness is intended to celebrate the purity of the space. The living room features a grey sofa, pastel-colored end tables, and a projector screen. Across the room is the dining area which includes a white table, wooden chairs, and built-in shelving. A wall of glass highlights the view of the city and opens to a small balcony. A narrow hallway leads to the bedroom and study. These rooms are furnished similar to the living room: white and wood furniture accented with soft colors. I love how such a simple design can express so much character. The white interior is the perfect backdrop for the residents’ colorful furniture and textiles. The stark interior allows these objects to pop and bring personality to the space. Taipei Apartment is sure to be a hit with the current and future occupants.


Koya No Sumika is an extension to a traditional home in Yaizu, Japan. The extension was designed for a young couple by mA-style Architects. The Japanese firm came up with a modern design with space saving solutions. The result is a refreshing juxtaposition to the traditional architecture of the original home. The exterior is a balance between white cement board and natural wood. The mix of crisp white and warm wood continues on the interior. The lofted ceiling features triangles of unfinished wood. White walls frame the lower portion of the home, sprinkled on both sides with built-in furniture. The decor is bare, just a few plants and lightbulbs strung from the ceilings. A simple courtyard garden adds a touch of green and connects the expansion with the original building. Koya No Sumika is a gorgeous structure inside and out. The materials are arranged so as to add character to the space, without losing its minimal appeal. Overall, this is a charming home expansion that the residents will enjoy for years to come.


This florist’s home in Japan’s Mie prefecture was designed to inspire the resident’s craft. The dwelling was completed by Japanese firm Shinichi Ogawa & Associates in May of this year. Florist Studio utilizes a refreshing simple design to offer seamless views for a creative live/work space. The most stunning feature of the home is the glass walls that span the entire length of the building. The glass is held in place by the floor and roof slabs; this structure eliminates the need for view-impeding columns. The long stretch of windows is reminiscent of a painting in a gallery. The gallery aesthetic continues throughout the home. A cantilevered counter runs the full length of the structure, forming a bed headboard and bathroom vanity on one end, and an office desk on the other. Carefully chosen furniture is placed in the other rooms. The attention paid to each detail makes the whole home feel like a work of art. Florist Studio a perfect dwelling for its resident and its environment.


Shirahama Roh Pinggu is a small seaside home designed by Okuwada Architects Office. Located in Wakayama, Japan, this single story home is structured to work with the island landscape. The sand and sea are on the southern side of the home, while mountains surround the other three sides. The southern wall of windows embraces the sea views. The kitchen and living room are situated in this part of the home. The mountain facing rooms contain more private areas, such as the bedrooms and bathrooms. Wooden floors connect the home with the forest behind it. A white and glass facade, and a galvanized steel roof, complete the home’s light and airy aesthetic. I love the simple design of this resort home. The soft colors and low lying structure minimize the visual impact the home has on the environment. The simple interior allows the residents to direct their focus out towards the landscape. Overall, Shirahama Roh Pinggu is a lovely vacation dwelling for a family. Photography by Tada Yuko / Yuko Tada Photography.


House for Mother is a simple home on a rural plot of land in Linköping, Sweden. Designed by FAF Architects, the home is composed of three staggered volumes. The foremost volume holds the entrance of the home and the kitchen, dining, and living rooms. The bedrooms and studio are located in the second volume. The third is a bathroom and laundry room. The rooms are sparse in material and furnishings. The interior features timber ceilings, plywood walls, and a polished concrete floor. These raw materials allow the home to feel modest, but not under-designed. Built in furniture completes the minimal aesthetic. The facade is covered in corrugated aluminum, lending the exterior an industrial chic look. I love how FAF Architects plays with the traditional house archetype. While the shape of House for Mother is classic, the materials and window placement are unexpected. All in all, House for Mother is an no-fuss design that doesn’t fail to captivate its viewer’s interest.


Situated on the Sado River in Portugal is a remarkably simple dwelling known as Cabanas no Rio. Designed by Manuel Aires Mateus, this home is split between two cabin structures. The private and public spaces are divided between the two forms: one holds the kitchen and living room, and the other contains the bedroom. The rooms are small and furnished only with necessities: a few sitting pieces and a bed. Benches and storage are built into the structure of the cabins. An outdoor shower rests along the side of the home. The facade is covered in raw wood, an incredibly elegant yet  unfussy material. The wood connects the home with its river landscape. A small jetty reaches out from the entrance of the structure. The cabins are only accessible by boat, a feature which adds to the modesty of life on the Sado River. There is nothing more pleasing than simple elegance. This home is void of any fancy or unneeded elements, yet it still feels luxurious. I wouldn’t want anything more.