Minimalissimo


Categorized “Architecture & Interior design”

The challenge that an architect has to face when producing a restricted minimalist space is always an interesting one. Materiality and transparency then inform the degree of openness within that perimeter. With such a small site in the ever-shrinking land of Japan, designers Takahashi Maki and Shiokami Daisuke of Takahashi Maki & Associates had created an architecture that helps light penetrate through, while still maintain the privacy and coziness of a residential unit. Located in Saitama Prefecture, White Hut exposes itself through two vertical glass panels that run parallel to each other, giving the outsiders a glimpse of the staircase, the workspace, and the kitchen. While the visual connection is apparent, the boundaries among spatial interior are also blurred to give a sense of freedom; each floor is its own room with no door. The bathroom is placed above other programs to maintain privacy, with light coming from all sides especially the two openings of the slanted roofs, which resembles the traditional housings that already pre-exist. The decision to apply corrugated metal for the exterior delivers a sense of lightness that goes against the usual aesthetic of Japanese designs. I thoroughly enjoy the flow of space within the house because...


This simple Japanese home may not look like much from the street, but step through its metal facade and everything changes. Cave House, designed by Kento Eto Atelier Architects, features a metal frame that is guarded and impervious on the street side, but open and welcoming in the back of the home. Just inside the structure’s entrance is a narrow garden, lit by a large opening high on the front facade. Sliding walls connect the living room to the garden, creating an indoor-outdoor style environment. These same walls are used in the rear of the home to link the first floor with a backyard meadow. Three bedrooms are located on the second story, accessed by a thin metal staircase. Two of the bedrooms possess a large window overlooking the garden. The third incorporates a mini balcony. My favorite pieces of architecture are those which blend the built and natural environments. Cave House is located in a residential neighborhood, but it showcases the same union with nature as a house built in a forest. This home proves that one does not need a site in the middle of the woods to design a structure with a strong relationship to the outdoors.


Renowned Lunetier Lionel Sonkes whose store on a small street in Brussels had commissioned Nicolas Schuybroek Architects with Marc Merckx Interiors to completely refurbish and rethink the existing shop, atelier and facade, in a warm, minimal and elegant volume. For over 20 years, Sonkes has been selling imported high-end glasses as well as custom made ones. Recognized as the Belgian equivalent of Maison Bonnet in Paris, the retail architecture by the design team had to reflect that reputation. What this optical store lacked in physical footprint was made up in its luxurious interiors. All the custom-made furniture and simple facade was designed with respect to the sleek minimalist character of the store. What I love most about this project is that instead of displaying an overwhelming variety of product, Sonkes Lunetterie has let the interior architecture speak for the atelier. The best examples executed here are the subtle volumes for merchandising, beautifully designed into wall niches, black metal framed vitrines and Carrara marble pedestals. The grey veins of the marble compliment the grey/white brushed oak wall panels and chevron-laid reclaimed oak floors, tying into the overall elegant and minimal architecture. Photography by ©CAFEINE/Thomas De Bruyne for NSArchitects and images courtesy of Nicolas Schuybroek Architects.


Private House is a vacation home located in a scenic and secluded part of England known as Cotswolds. Designed by London based architecture firm Found Associates, the house is an extension of an 18th century stone cottage. The structure extends from both ends of the old cottage but doesn’t fully envelope it. This design allows both the cottage and extension to feel like unique volumes living in harmony. Private House also sits harmoniously with the surrounding landscape: the large structure dwells low on the site so as not to block the picturesque vistas of the rolling green hills. The clean, minimal nature of the home lends itself to feeling like an art gallery. However, in the absence of artwork, the house and surrounding landscape are the objects on exhibit. I think minimal homes tend to make the best vacation homes: one can truly relax in a peaceful setting free of distractions. Private House won the RIBA National Award in 2012 and was nominated for the RIBA Manser Medal.


This serene spa and wellness centre has been built by David Chipperfield Architects. It occupies two floors of the historic hotel Cafe Royal in London, and creates a perfect balance between minimalist austerity and the old world elegance that surrounds it. This project is also an ode to some of the most exquisite textures. The spa features two carrara marble hammams, a Finish sauna in solid hemlock with domed ceiling, a stainless steel jacuzzi and solid marble private jacuzzis in the treatment rooms. I love how the idea of luxury has been approached in this design, by focusing on things that truly matter: open space, honest materials and the sense of simplicity and grace.


Like many homes in busy Japanese cities, House of Hatsugano is designed with a focus on privacy. The site, located in a dense neighborhood in Osaka, provided a challenge for NRM Architects Office. How can one create a private home that still incorporates natural light and outdoor space? The architects respond to this challenge by designing a home with three key elements: an opaque facade, a courtyard, and a roof deck.  One of the most stunning features of the structure is the elaborate roof deck. The deck, invisible from the street, circles around the roof, looking down into the courtyard. The roof deck provides much needed open, outdoor space to the small property. The interior of House of Hatsugano is reminiscent of an art gallery. The furnishings are chosen carefully and are clearly the centerpiece of every room. The functional and service areas are tucked away in cabinets that blend with the walls. I love how this home breaks the traditional aesthetic of the neighborhood. The house looks ultra modern and cool paired next to its classic suburban neighbors.


The monolithic architecture of the Ooike House by Matsuyama Architect and Associates creates the living experience around the views. While heavy at first glance, the imposing structure of this residence located in Fukuoka, Japan, is juxtaposed by the sleek slivers of window openings, delicate walls of glass and a skeleton-like staircase. Intersecting planes define the unique, assymetrical volumes of the interiors while the wide spacing of the joint lines of the concrete walls and floor tiles emphasize the scale of the space, making it feel more expansive than it already is. It is a different sort of comfort that I find appealing about this project. The house seems to exude the calm and cleanliness that one seeks in meditation. From the furniture to the fixtures and finishings, the details are kept to an extreme minimal. The spaces are serene and peaceful, making the view of the city and the landscape beyond an integral part of the architecture, making the architecture about rest. Images courtesy of Matsuyama Architect and Associates.


If you find that the Ginan house appears to emerge from the surface of the earth, its because its made of earth: the facade is coated in a layer of gravel. Designed by Keitaro Muto Architects, this Japanese home is composed of two blocks of different size and shape. The blocks are separated on the outside by a small swimming pool, and connected on the inside by metal bridges. One block contains the bedrooms and the other houses the living and dining rooms. From the outside, the structure is mostly opaque, exuding a guarded feeling. On the interior, however, the home is open and airy. The outward sloping walls and high ceilings allow the home to feel much larger than it actually is. The built in furniture and monochromatic color scheme also contribute to lightness of the interior. The unique shape and material of Ginan House forces you to look twice. And there is nothing more pleasing than architecture that draws the viewer in, prompts questions, and leaves us with a lingering fascination. Photography by Apertozero.


Nameless Architecture’s Concrete Church in Seoul, South Korea is a monolithic dance of concrete forms. The exposed and beautifully articulate concrete create architectural forms that intersect and envelop one another to bring the volumes together. Based on New York and Seoul, Nameless Architecture collaborated with local architecture JSpace firm, to create the structure that covers just over 3,000sqm. Intended to embody religious values, the series of spaces, much akin to many temples and spiritual spaces, have an open-body stillness to them. The materiality and adhesion to a minimalist palette helps aid this uncluttered nature. Formally, the analogy of the cross was utilized as a launching pad for the design and layout. The cross as a religious symbol substitutes for an enormous bell tower and is integrated with the physical property of the building whereby the minimized symbol implies the internal tension of the space. Nameless Architecture has really embodied their simple and stripped back formality through a reflective spiritual space. The use of simple volumes and a single material adapted to the site only helps reinforce this. The use and celebration of concrete as a material and structural element is the icing to these spaces. Photography courtesy of Rohspace and...


A rugged house in a rugged environment, House at Camusdarach Sands is uniquely shaped to maximize the views of the sunrise and sunset. Designed by London based Raw Architecture Workshop, this home takes advantage of its picturesque location in Scotland by orienting towards the east and west horizons. The three story home is composed of a dark timber facade atop an exposed concrete base. The interior features bright white walls accented with light wood. The main living spaces are placed on the uppermost floor, so as to take full advantage of the spectacular views. The more private and less used spaces are located on the lower two levels. I love the unique form of this home. The angled structure is a wonderful design technique. House at Camusdarach Sands takes advantage of its full environment, from the ground to the sky. Photography by David Barbour.


This residence on an irregular site located in Islington, London is designed by Atelier ChanChan. The complete demolition of the previous building allowed the designer to instill her own design language into the facade of the house, a Herringbone brick pattern. Brick, being the material that is familiar to the context yet in a pattern that is seldom used on the exteriors. The warmth from the materials used both inside and out of this house exudes the comfort in its minimalism. The stunning detail of the floating staircase brings much light through the interiors; the sliding doors that provide a frameless opening to the courtyard; the walls in the bedroom that extends to the pitch of the roof – the architecture connects the spaces in an elegant and subtle manner that exemplifies understated, minimalist design. Photos via Atelier ChanChan and Dezeen.


Contrasted against the sunny, arid landscape in Portugal is the House in Quinta Do Carvalheiro. The home is designed by Italian based firm Giorgio Santagostino and Monica Margarido, also known as GSMM Architects. The form of the residence is directly related to the topography of the site. The structure is kept small so as to limit human intervention in the landscape. All of the rooms are arranged around a central patio. This patio connects the home to the outdoors without expanding the structure’s rectangular footprint. Large windows embrace the exterior while opaque walls protect the home from overheating at the sunniest points. I love how the house sits low on the horizon. At certain angles the landscape appears about to engulf the residence and pull it back into the ground. House in Quinta Do Carvalheiro achieves a perfect balance of man and nature. Photographs by FG + SG Fotografia de Arquitectura.