What could be more minimal than a Donald Judd sculpture? The clean forms, understated materials, and production process make Judd’s sculptures a hallmark of minimalism. Not unpredictably, his home and studio is an epitome of minimalist aesthetic and sensibility. Located in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City, Judd’s five story row home is now open to the public, thanks to restoration efforts by Architecture Research Office. Decorated with furniture of his own design, as well as artworks by artists Carl Andre, John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin and Frank Stella, Judd’s home was a source of inspiration to him and his contemporaries. With the precise restoration complete, the home and studio preserves Donald Judd’s legacy, allowing a future generation to be inspired by the timeless artist.
True design needs no ornamentation.
The Elena Garro Cultural Center is a thoughtful renovation of an old home into a modern cultural center. Located in Mexico City, the center was designed by Fernanda Canales Arquitectura in collaboration with arquitectura911sc. The unique merging of a 20th century house and a contemporary structure highlights the past while displaying an elegant modern aesthetic. Canales wrapped the existing building with a simple concrete and glass frame, thus doubling the floor space and preserving the shell of the old house. Architects are often faced with the decision to destroy or preserve. The former is often chosen as the simplest path towards achieving a desired aesthetic. By choosing the latter path, Canales shows us that a fresh, minimal style does not have to emerge from a blank canvas.
House in Nanjo is a modern gem located in the Okinawa Prefecture, a series of islands in the southernmost region of Japan. The natural landscape of the island is breathtaking; it is only fitting that this home was built to be equally stunning. Designed by local firm Matsuyama Architect and Associates, this house rivals the surrounding environment with scale and palette. The structure is monumental: a massive rectangular form which contains vast interior dwelling spaces. The grey and white exterior ensures this building sits distinctly apart from the green lawn and blue sky. The juxtaposition this home creates between the natural and built environment gives it a refreshing, bold quality. The building is not fighting with nature; it is having a conversation. House in Nanjo unequivocally approaches the trees, grass, and sky and says, Look at me, I’m spectacular too.
House J sits on a small, unassuming site in Yamaguchi, Japan. Situated in a busy residential neighborhood, House J provides a peaceful oasis for its residents. Designed by Keiko Maita Architect Office, this structure features three floors that revolve around an inner garden. A roof terrace offers additional outdoor space. House J is a thoughtful solution to common design challenges: lack of space and lack of privacy. By situating the rooms around an inner courtyard, the architects create an image of seclusion. The large windows and pragmatic use of square footage illude to a home much larger than its actual footprint. Overall, House J is a wonderful response to a bustling neighborhood in southern Japan.
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas is a stunning piece of architecture by Tadao Ando. Ando’s work is influenced by the Japanese concept of Zen, which focuses on simplicity and inner peace. This museum stresses this concept through its simple form, connection with nature, and selective use of materials. The structure is made of concrete, steel, and glass, and is surrounded by a large reflecting pool. The minimal spaces in The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth allow plenty of room for sculpture, paintings, and people. With it’s thoughtful simplicity Ando’s museum enhances the art it contains, therefore enhancing the user’s overall experience. This building is everything a museum should be: pure, practical, and peaceful.
House Apelle, a charming single family home, is located in a wooded area of Finland. Designed by the unique architect and artist Marco Casagrande, of Casagrande Laboratory, this home was designed with particular attention to the surrounding environment. According to Casagrande: The building rests in a natural harbor like a boat in a sheltering pocket surrounded by bed rocks and trees… The house is in the forest as much as the forest is in the house – the architecture is a mediator between the modern man and nature. The interior is largely open, with few walls separating a central living space from the private areas on the sides of the house. Large windows and the use of natural materials bring the outdoors in. This is a lovely multifunctional home that bridges the gaps between modern and traditional, beauty and function, man and nature.
Markthuis is a private home renovation and extension by BARCODE Architects, also known as the Buro for Architecture and Contemporary Design. Located in Belgium, this house was designed around the owner’s art collection and hunting trophies. The structure features an open plan living area with a double height ceiling. The walls in this space serve as tall exhibition walls. The bedrooms and intimate dwelling spaces are placed on the upper story for privacy. I love how BARCODE Architects kept this structure minimal in order to maximize the viewing of the artifacts in the home. Like a museum or gallery, this home enhances the objects inside it. Every detail is perfectly designed to create a clean, crisp palette. And check out that staircase: it is a work of art in itself!
Located in Japan, Brownie is a bakery shop and residence which utilizes a unique layout to meet the needs of the owners. Designed by Uchida Architect Design Office, this structure serves the residents and bakery visitors. The entrance is set between the house and the shop, allowing for integration of the two areas. The structure fans out from the entrance, with the bakery to the southeast and the home to the northwest. This layout also allows the users to fully experience the natural surroundings: the windows are positioned to maximize viewing. Merging two programs in one structure is often a challenge for designers. Uchida rose to this challenge with a unique floor plan that serves both program and environment. Well done!
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.
House in Sanbonmatsu is a spacious and light-filled home designed by Hironaka Ogawa and Associates. The highlight of this Japanese house is the central courtyard. A piece of the roof appears to have been carved away, revealing a lovely outdoor space in the middle of the structure. Most of the rooms are arranged around the perimeter of the courtyard. Two bedrooms are located on the second story. The kitchen and living room features a double height ceiling, allowing the room to feel light and airy. The majority of the home’s windows face the courtyard, as opposed to the street, to promote a sense of calm. I love the contrast between the House in Sanbonmatsu’s street appearance and its internal appearance. The home reveals nothing on the street aside from a large, sloping roof and clean white walls. But the interior features warm wood, spacious living areas, and a peaceful outdoor dwelling place. Overall, the key elements of this home combine seamlessly to form a great minimal structure.
The House in Goido is a simple, thoughtful structure designed in response to a busy neighborhood in Japan. Designed by Fujiwaramuro Architects, the home consists of four independent structures connected using bridges and patios. These structures are nestled behind tall exterior walls. The walls shield the residents from the street and allow them to focus on the internal happenings in the structure. A central courtyard creates an outdoor environment that is protected from the street. This design is a typical response to the dense urban environment of Japan. I will never tire of seeing smart and effective solutions for urban dwelling. The House in Giodo forges a private, peaceful family life in the middle of a crowded, bustling town. The layout creates both independence and togetherness, while the use of neutral materials allows the small spaces to feel open and airy.
The Sundial House gets its name from its orientation and design: the home faces the south and blocks the sun, creating a shadow that moves slowly throughout the day and changes with each season. Designed by Hironaka Ogawa and Associates, this Japanese home reflects the lifestyle of a farmer. The shadows cast by the home and the home’s connection to the surrounding fields reflect the changes of the seasons. The home feels different in winter, spring, summer, and fall. The Sundial House feels different in every season due to the way the structure interacts with the sun and landscape. In this way the seasons become part of the design of the home. This is a lovely approach to minimalist design: the home draws its characteristics from the natural environment, which is not built, rather than the built environment. What a great concept!