Minimalissimo


Categorized “House”

Standing out in stark contrast amidst the traditional Japanese architecture in the city of Kanazawa, Takuro Yamamoto Architects designed the White Cave House for a client who wanted multiple external spaces of terraces and courtyards reflected in a minimalist architecture. The monolithic volumes conceal a courtyard with a shallow reflecting pool, a covered garage which is the ‘cave’ connected garage for the client’s multiple cars to the living spaces, designed with functional minimalism. My favorite detail of this project has to be the fact that the experience of a courtyard in a climate with heavy snowfall is a luxury. As described by the architects: We designed Cave unstraight because it prevents passengers outside from seeing through, though it is not closed. By this arrangement, Cave takes a new turn for each part letting in the sunshine while protecting privacy of the courtyard, the terrace, and the internal rooms. Cave also serves as a route to remove snow from the external spaces in winter, otherwise you would be at a loss with a lot of snow in the enclosed courtyard. The accessibility for the garage doubles as a way to remove snow from the courtyard, a clever solution by the architects without compromising...


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.


This two-story house has beed completed by Case Design Studio in Ueda Nagano, Japan. The site surrounding the building is a part of a peach and pear orchard, which provides a beautiful green panorama. This backdrop of cultivated greenery emphasizes the laconic color scheme of the house, ranging between black and white with ochre yellow accents. The ample terrace creates a secluded frame, separating the building from the open fields. I love how light is organized in this project. Open lower level almost becomes one with the outdoor space, while the second floor has more private feel, achieved by a narrow window frontage, overlooking the tops of the fruit trees.


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.


With the growth of population and the lack of land, Japanese dwellings have become a device that’s made to adapt. Four meters wide, the Shiga based Promenade House by Kouichi Kimura Architects uses its elongated massing to make up for the narrow width. The corridor formed by the proportion is broken up with footlights in response to the light shortage. It then opens up to the backyard fully to mirror the entrance – a poetic visual connection. The minimal exterior of white and grey is brought into the interior, reflected through the white walls and concrete stairs. Wooden floor and furniture accents the otherwise stark ambience. Similar to many Japanese residential projects, the project’s lower and upper floor is linked again by a simple ladder. The hallway above divides into two, with one leading to a green space, literally, that is the washroom. The other leads to the bedroom and the child’s room, accompanied with skylights. The other end of the hallway is also painted green to weave together the front and back. With a small color manipulation and the clever execution of a long space with different widths, Kouichi Kimura Architects was able to create an experience of discovering...


This beautifully linear house has been completed by mA-Style Architects in Shizouka, Japan. The building consists of two volumes connected by a wooden patio. On a sunny day, the sliding glass doors can be opened, and the entire footprint of the house can become one room. The different levels of the interior are accessible via ladders that are minimal and transparent. I like how fluid the layout is. Every room, aside from kitchen and bathroom, is interchangeable and can be used as the mood or necessity dictates. Designers elaborate:  Although Idokoro is merely somewhat ambiguous, it produces various scenes. Idokoro also brings various expression and sense of distance to space.  Another interesting element is the combination of different wooden textures. Artfully alternated and put against the white backdrop of the walls, they create perspective and warmth.  These wooden frames also pay stylistic homage to traditional Japanese architecture.


+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.


Belgian-based Minus Architects have produced yet another minimalist delight in the form of C Marke. A family studio that predominantly focuses on the residential architectural realm, their work is based around the ethos of simplicity being a sign of perfection. C Marke is a testament to this. Through a combination of flush clean lines, muted greys and whites, the concealed appliances screen streamlined utility. In the words of the architects, the superlative standard of finish reflects the craftsmanship of seven generations. The pride taken in the execution is obvious. Overtly European in style and delivery, this project comprised polished concrete floors, and a series of intelligent uses of spatial planning. Through a series of doors that become walls that reveal rooms, concealed in the wall cavities, the spaces have the potential to change engagement and functionality. I couldn’t agree more with the designer’s interpretation of minimalism; that the pure lines create space, calmness and serenity. C Marke is a clear interpretation of simplicity and minimalist principles manifesting beautiful spaces to live. Photography courtesy of Arne Jennard.


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.