Look carefully or you might miss the tiny Yokaya restaurant and residence in Fukuoka, Japan. This humble white rectangle is nestled on a busy street between several tall condo buildings. Designed by rhythmdesign, the structure is a mere 135 square meters and houses a restaurant on the ground floor with an apartment above. The front facade is entirely opaque on the upper stories, while a cutout on the ground floor invites passerby into the restaurant. Wood and concrete are the main materials used in the interior. In the restaurant, the simple design allows the food to take center stage. The apartment above is arranged with a similar aesthetic: built in storage keeps the space uncluttered and the furnishings are limited to essentials. I love the modest design of this duplex building. The clean lines of the architecture and precise use of materials come together quite elegantly. Yokaya is quiet and reserved, but it is its little form that stands dignified on this bustling street.
B House is one of the few landmarks on the soft, rolling meadows of Segovia, Spain. Designed by CH+QS Arquitectos, this home was inspired by a prominent color in the natural scenery: yellow. This environment is speckled by yellow in every season. Flowers, wheat, leaves, sheep and sun brighten the terrain with their pleasant hues. B house accentuates these hues using warm wood and soft lighting. The structure is small, almost miniature. Eliminating unnecessary space allowed the architects to shrink the home’s footprint. Indoor and outdoor common areas are situated in the center of the home, with oversize openings framing the views to the east and the west. The private functions of the home are pushed to the outer edges, while the basement den accommodates the children’s playtime. House B is a humble home which enhances the beloved fields that surround it. The architecture emerges from the ground almost organically. With a bit of imagination it’s easy to picture the home growing from the earth along with the yellow trees and flowers. Photographs by FG + SG Fotografia de Arquitectura.
This sleek home is located on a sandy site in Comporta, Portugal. Designed by RRJ Arquitectos, this structure meets the needs of living in a harsh environment. Sun protection is a main concern in the scheme of House in Comporta. The single story home sits low on the site, maximizing coolness and minimizing sun exposure. The thick, concrete walls guard the home from the sun at the most vulnerable points. All the windows are recessed in the facade for extra shade during the brightest parts of the day. Clean lines, white walls, and hardwood floors are featured on the interior. I love how this home merges perfectly with its environment. The concrete facade appears to emerge directly from the sandy floor. The home is also sized so as to enhance the view of the trees and sky, rather than distract from them. House in Comporta is a perfect example of a structure inspired by the unique characteristics of its site. Photographs by FG + SG Fotografia de Arquitectura.
House in Daizawa is located in a residential neighborhood in Tokyo, Japan. Designed by The Archetype, lead by Nobuo Araki, this structure aims to maximize outdoor space while creating a private environment for the residents. The home is situated in the middle of the site, allowing for a roomy patio in the front and a lovely backyard garden on the southern half of the lot. Concrete walls on both ends of the site separate the home from neighbors and the street. The interior features an open floor plan with large windows and hardwood details. I love Nobuo Araki’s simple yet thoughtful design. The outdoor spaces are perfectly framed by the concrete walls and large windows of the house. Inside and outside, the structure evokes a sense of seclusion reminiscent of a country dwelling. In a city as busy as Tokyo, the peaceful House in Daizawa is truly an accomplishment.
This beautiful vacation house has been built by Florian Busch Architects in Niseko, Japan. It is perched on a sloping lot overlooking Mount Yotei. Two blocks of the building are shifted in a perfect way to accommodate this challenging landscape. The structure is reinforced by a concrete shear wall and covered with light wood on the outside. The warmth of wood and coolness of concrete create an exciting textural dynamic in the interior. The lower level is comprised of bedrooms and private bathrooms, the upper one opens up to a living/dining area with the kitchen. The heated pool on the roof completes the design. Like the building itself, the interior is unadorned and simple. Well thought-out furniture pieces blend in nicely with the structural elements of the house. Nothing is there to distract from what this place is really about – stunning views of the mountain, serenity and peace.
House F for a Violinist is another gorgeous build by one of my favorite Japanese firms, Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects. The small, dark structure is situated on a narrow plot in busy downtown Tokyo. The architects responded to the site’s slim condition with a three story home, which uses height and depth to meet the needs of the occupant. The ground floor is a covered entrance, which also functions as a carport. The second and third stories contain the living and sleeping spaces, as well as a practice studio for the resident’s musical needs. I love the dark silhouette of this thin home. The arched opening on the ground floor and the large windows above add visual interest to the facade while serving practical purposes. This lovely structure is simple and beautiful, and looks great when illuminated at night!
This two family dwelling is located in Minamikarasuyama, Tokyo. Atelier HAKO Architects formed the two homes in one building on a narrow plot. Concrete is the primary material used in this structure. A concrete facade ensures privacy for the dwelling while projecting a sleek and modern aesthetic. The pattern of dots on the concrete are a result of the fabrication process. In this home, however, they form a simple, lovely pattern on the exterior and interior walls. Louvered screens cover the large windows: they filter the light and create additional privacy for the residents. Each story of the building contains a home with all the necessities for a small family: bedrooms, bathrooms, and a main living area with kitchen. The interiors are divided by white walls that compliment the exposed concrete. Floating staircases lead to a glass-covered terrace on the upper story. Dwelling of Minamikarasuyama is an elegant solution for a multi-family home in a crowded city.
Casa V is a redevelopment project by architecture team Dosis de Arquitectura of an existing house that was constructed in the early 1960s. A stunning volume of curved walls and stark white embody this holiday home for the owners for half a century. As the years went by, the growth of the family could not be contained in the original house hence the work to adapt and expand on the multi-generation, multi-purpose building. Casa V was already located on a breathtaking site in La Coruña, Spain. The structure is reminiscent of Corbusier’s nom de plume: A house is a machine for living in. Form follows function - it exists to serve its purpose of facilitating activities within and to experience the views of the landscape. The present architects have continued the legacy as they so eloquently describe it: Spaces are defined by the unfolding of matter in space-time, which topologically adapts itself to what happens inside. The new house is formalized by the continuous flow of a completely neutral wrap – no edges, no color, no texture – and, within this wrapping, life, action, is the protagonist. Dosis de Arquitectura have aligned the design language – the characteristics of the wrap and typography of the architecture - with...
Rainha House is designed by the Belgium based studio Atelier d’Architecture Bruno Erpicum, or ABBE for short. The small, rectangular structure is home to a family in Portugal. Glass and concrete are the primary materials used in this residence. Polished concrete can feel cold and sterile, but this is not the case with Rainha House. Hardwood floors and well-placed lighting add warmth to the space and balance the coolness of the concrete. The full length glass windows bring in sunlight and connect the home with the natural environment. I love the use of concrete in Rainha House. Exposed concrete is a pure and beautiful material; it elevates this home from a basic structure to a fine work of art. Rainha House is an elegant dwelling perfectly suited to its inhabitants and environment.
It is rare to see a modern home with a conventional A-frame roof and wooden facade. Boreraig House, on the Scottish Isle of Skye, proves that chic and modern living can take many forms. Designed by Dualchas Architects, this home aims to connect with the landscape and local heritage. Boreraig House sits low on the skyline so as not to interrupt the stunning mountain views. Instead of adding space in height, Dualchas Architects created the structure in three connected bodies. The main block holds the kitchen, dining room, and lounge. The second space is for the bedrooms; and the third is a private study. The structure’s materials are derived from its surroundings: metal from the farm’s gates, lumber from the fence, and stone from the traditional property walls. I love the combination of modern and rustic in this humble home. The flush paneling and gray color of the wood modernize the facade. The corrugated metal does the same for the sleek roof. Overall, Boreraig House is a lovely, peaceful country dwelling.
House in Shimamoto is located in a busy residential neighborhood in Osaka, Japan. Container Design, based in Kobe, Japan, designed the simple home with the goal of connecting the residents with nature while maintaining privacy from near-by neighbors. The home is comprised of three basic materials: steel, glass, and timber. White galvanized steel plates cover the facade, protecting the retreat from the crowded street. On the north side of the home, large glass windows bring in natural light and offer a peak at the mountainous landscape. Timber is used throughout the interior: the ceiling and wall beams are exposed and the floor alternates between a solid and slatted wood pattern. I love the restricted use of materials in this home. The steel, glass, and wood feel complimentary yet still maintain an interesting contrast. House in Shimamoto is a no-fuss home that is sure to please anyone lucky enough to reside there.
Swedish architecture practice Tham & Videgård has taken the traditional gabled house for a modern, minimalist interpretation. Summerhouse Lagnö is constructed with a series of pitched roofs that run the length the site with a rectilinear plan. The more public living space faces the Baltic sea while the private and service areas occupy the area closer to the forest behind it. It is the uninterrupted design language that I find so appealing in this project. The eaves of the roof weave seamlessly into the walls of the exterior concrete finish. At the same time, the interiors receive the continuity of the shape of the roofs. The use of natural cast concrete makes it possible to create the expansive volumes of the interiors, double height rooms and skylights. A pitched frame with a glass canopy provides cover, connects a separate living space and enables a view from the woods to the water which may have inspired the architects to begin with. Summerhouse Lagnö recently won the World Architecture News House of the Year for 2013. Photography by Åke E:son Lindman.