Sagamine House

Hiroshi Tanigawa, Yasuko Okamura
Tomoaki Uno Architects

Sagamine House is located in Japan, on the outskirts of the city of Nagoya. Designed by Japanese firm Tomoaki Uno Architects, the dwelling is a lovely mix of traditional Japanese structure and modern design. From the exterior, the building reads as three volumes: an opaque mass and a transparent one, connected by a low-lying bridge. Clad entirely in exposed concrete, the boxy structure feels quite contemporary against its backdrop of serene countryside.

The entrance to Sagamine House is dramatically placed in the central block. The door, the only opening on this part of the facade, is an oversized wood-framed portal. Once inside the home, the most prominent material is exquisite white oak; the oak is palpable even in the photographs, and one can only imagine how lovely it feels underfoot. This wooden palette is reminiscent of Japanese teahouses, and the comparison washes the interior with a sense of peace. Concrete walls, defined in several of the rooms, continue the story of the exterior. Hard and soft come together with the bold and modern aesthetic of the concrete complimenting the light wood.

The depth of the use of the white oak can not be understated. It is used on the floors, the stairs, the window frames, and the kitchen cabinetry. The wood paneling is even used for the demising walls, and the absence of traditional white sheetrock is a pleasant surprise. Light furnishings carry on the colour narrative; their tan leathers are luxurious without taking away from the architecture of the dwelling. Select accessories impart light and colour: a large fig tree, an artistic light fixture, a shelf full of books.

Interior and exterior are brought together once again in the window frames. The frames are fabricated of white oak, and lie exposed against the concrete facade when viewed from outside. The mix of Sagamine House's two materials in both the interior and exterior design do not just achieve minimalist ends: the strong materiality also brings continuity. Whether inside or out, one is always assured that they are at Sagamine House.

On the east end of the residence a dramatic window is recessed in a concrete form. The window was intended to frame the scenery beyond, allowing the user to view the landscape as if it were a painting. The technique of framing the landscape is employed often in minimalist architecture as a way to incorporate nature in the design. In Sagamine House, the lush green backdrop decorates the room. The window works in harmony with the landscape, bringing architecture and scenery together as one, just as the design intended.

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