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.
Designed as a residence that also serves the practice of a physiotherapist, House D-Z was designed by Belgian architects Graux & Baeyens located in Oudenaarde. The blocks that form the volume of the house cleverly stagger to bring in sunlight and optimize views while carefully protecting the privacy of the owner from the neighbors in such close proximity. It is a relatively simple concept yet the architects have delivered it with such beautiful proportions, details and finishes. The monolithic form of the volumes naturally support the intention of the window wall that frames the view of the garden. What I enjoy most is the unique series of stairs which repeat in the cross section, defining the separated volumes of the private and public spaces in this minimalist residence. Photographs by Luc Roymans.
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!
Designed by Wendell Burnette Architects, The Dialogue House sits well-shaded at the base of Echo Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona with captivating views of the South Mountain and Sierra Estrella Mountain ranges as well as downtown Phoenix . As described by the architects: Two volumes of light – one warm and one cool – one projected to the expansive horizon and one toward the canopy of the desert sky. Inspired by John Van Dyke’s ruminations on the phenomena of desert light specifically “colored air” and “reflected light” in his 1907 book titled The Desert – Further Studies in Natural Appearances. These images by Bill Timmerman capture the most beautiful moments of this house. I love the contrast of the dramatic volumes of the exterior to the subtle, more intricate details of the interiors and finishes. The desert views and light compliment the architecture and complete the experience of a minimalist habitat in such an environment.
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.
Designed with a very specific purpose — to separate the owners from a loud, busy street in downtown Miyasaki, southern Japan, into their own private sanctuary — architect Michiya Tsukano of Tsukano Architect Office delivers this monolithic white structure with only a narrow vertical slice to interrupt it. The home was designed around a private courtyard, that provides natural lighting for the interiors and is overlooked by every room. Concrete walls and surfaces are balanced with light-colored timber panels, warm ceramics, white plaster and glass. My favorite part is where the concrete dining table meets the white pebbled courtyard floor at the same level, a flowing continuity barely interrupted by a large glass pane. The design exudes the calm and peacefulness of its statement of purpose and is an interesting contemporary hybrid between traditional Japanese design and Western standards.
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.
A living space where the presence of the family would always be felt. This brief from the client led Keiichi Kiriyama of Airhouse Design Office to design this single family house located in Yoro, Gifu Prefecture, a steel structure that allows an expansive open living space with no columns. Complimenting the open-concept kitchen , dining and living areas specified for the food-loving owners, minimalist details of the interior finishes and exposed structure enable the brightness and uniformity in the very large space. The private spaces of bedrooms and bathrooms are designed within a box-like structure with the children’s bedroom and play area above it. What I am drawn to most about this project is that the architect addresses the needs of the client first and foremost in the living requirements and cost efficiency. Constructed to minimize heat loss and improve insulation especially in the challenging open-concept interiors, it maintains a consistent design aesthetic throughout with a few welcomed surprises in color for the private spaces, giving this family home the spatial experience it wants and the personality it needs. Images and text courtesy of Keiichi Kiriyama of Airhouse Design Office. Photography by Toshiyuki Yano
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.
Designed for the German fashion label Studiorundholz GMBH, the architecture firm apool took on the challenge of a deep and narrow site in central Berlin to deliver the brand experience for the flagship store as well as a second home for the label’s owners. Obtaining as much natural light as possible was the priority hence the generous ceiling heights and spacious volumes. The architects’ approach to the exterior is interesting as it draws attention for its clean and somewhat austere facade made of high-gloss painted aluminum panels. apool refers to it making the location recognizable and replacing classic outdoor advertising. The 6.5m fully glazed sliding door is inviting and reveals the minimalist interiors that pique curiosity from the street while the operable shutter-like panels at the top level suggest a more private space. The scale and proportion of the street and adjacent townhouses are much respected in the sizes of these panels, which I really admire about the project, as well as the indication of public versus private use of interior spaces. Images and information courtesy of apool architects.
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!