House K may look small from the street, but this intelligent design is large enough to house two families. With a maximum width of a mere seven feet, House K stretches into the sky to create additional square footage. Designed by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects, this home achieves a comfortable living space by utilizing towers and space-saving staircases. Two thirty foot towers are connected by a central hall. Each tower holds the living areas for one family, allowing for privacy as well as connectivity. I appreciate this housing concept: two distinct but coupled spaces allow for an extended family to live in sync. The combination of wood and concrete is also lovely: the wood evokes the memory of traditional Japanese homes, while the concrete is distinctly modern. House K’s thoughtful design is a solution I hope we can see more of in multi-family housing.
True design needs no ornamentation.
Ma House is another lovely response to the tricky housing situation in Japan. Located in Aichi, Japan, this narrow home is so close to its neighbors that the outer walls nearly touch. The architects, Katsutoshi Sasaki + Associates, react to the challenging site with a simple and airy design. The home has few interior walls and limited furnishings. Combined with high ceilings and natural light these elements allow the home to feel much larger than its actual footprint. I am continually fascinated by the smart designs that emerge from the strenuous housing conditions in Japan. Size does not equal style: Ma House proves you don’t need a lot of space to live beautifully.
Located on a lovely strip of beach in Spain is the DBJC House. The home was built to maximize its relationship with the sand and sea. The structure sits low on the site, almost becoming a natural part of the rocky coast. The walls are nearly all open to the landscape: some physically, others shielded from the elements by frameless sheets of glass. The main living area is located closest to the sea, while the bedrooms sit further back on the ground and upper floors. The rooftop is home to a simple terrace, allowing for an unimpeded view of picturesque scenery. DBJC is another gorgeous work by Alberto Campo Baeza, a Spanish architect widely recognized for his prudent designs. I am a huge fan of Alberto Campo Baeza. His designs possess an air of timelessness achieved through excellent choices in form and material.
Slip House is a unique entity on a street full of traditional English houses. The three story building is comprised of rectangular forms covered in translucent glass planks. Completed in 2012 by Carl Turner Architects, Slip House is designed with beauty and sustainability in mind. The structure features a green roof, rain water harvesting, and a ground source heat pump. Slip House’s smart design makes it one of the most energy efficient houses in the UK. I love the sculptural quality of this building. The forms and materials are simple yet captivating. Slip House serves as a lovely model for residential architecture that is aesthetically impressive and energy efficient.
The facade of Can Durban is fiercely unbarred. Nearly every wall of the Spanish home features massive windows or long stretches of terrace. Designed by the Belgium firm Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum & Partners, or AABE, Can Durban aims to unite the natural and built environment. The frameless windows provide a transcendent vista of sea, sky, and plain. The stone retaining walls and rugged floor embrace the harsh Spanish climate. Can Durban is formed of two structures: the larger one is the residents’ living areas, while the smaller is a guest house. A partially enclosed courtyard sits between the two. The house is furnished sparingly: custom woodworks and figural sculptures comprise most of the interior objects. Can Durban is a gorgeous dwelling which successfully integrates natural and man-made beauty. Photographs by Jean-Luc Laloux.
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.
+node is a home located in the Hiroshima Prefecture of Japan. Designed by UID Architects, +node creates a place where the natural world and the man-made world seamlessly intersect. The timber clad building is composed of two rectangular forms, one for support and one which extends beyond the hillside to form a spectacular cantilever. The cantilever hovers high above the forest floor and features a partially open floor, allowing trees to grow up into the home. The main floor contains the living area, study, and outdoor space, while the bedrooms are located on the lower story. I love how this structure utilizes smart design elements to improve the convergence of building and environment. The wooden facade and cantilever allow the home to feel as if it is a part of the terrain, rather than fighting against it.
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.
Speed down the highway in the town of Shimanto, Japan and you might miss the little house on the side of the road. And that is exactly what architects Keisuke Kawaguchi+K2-Design intended. The House of Shimanto is located next to a major roadway, but it doesn’t feel like it. The minimal design makes it barely visible from the road, deterring any curious drivers’ eyes. Three sides of the structure are designed as a barricade against the noise and views of the highway. The back of the house opens up to the environment with large windows and outdoor space. I love how the architects managed to provide a comfortable and livable home despite the challenges of the site. House of Shimanto provides creative solutions to big problems: it is quite simply a great design.
At first appearance, the Torre di Moravola may not appear to be a minimalist structure, or even a modern one. But step inside and you will be immersed in a contemporary dwelling like no other. An abandoned watchtower, the Torre di Moravola was steeped in Italian history and charm. Yet the structure was no where near safe and livable. Thus began a long and extensive renovation by partners Christopher Chong and Seonaid Mackenzie. The design seeks to maintain the beauty of the original tower while incorporating a modern aesthetic desirable in the luxury hotel market. What appears as a simple, clean design is actually a serious of complex interventions nine years in the making. Chong and Mackenzie’s thorough renovation turns a disregarded piece of history into a timeless attraction. I love the contrast of the modern materials against the original stone masonry. Torre di Moravola is an architectural marvel any traveler would be lucky to experience.
Located on a mountaintop in South Korea, and adjacent to an oak preserve, sits the Hansol Museum. After a tiring seven years of construction, this institution opened to the public this past May. Designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, the Hansol Museum houses the private art collection of its namesake, the Hansol Group. The stone and concrete structure sits low to the ground on a large reflecting pool. The interior is constructed with concrete and contains simple light wells to lighten the stark passageways. The Hansol Museum is characteristic of Ando’s minimal, thoughtful design style. The building subtly incorporates the surrounding environment, allowing for a peaceful merging of architecture, art, and nature.