Technicality is often overlooked in dialogues regarding architecture design aesthetic, where function and appearance are the main conversational topics. Although many architects have woven the structural integrity of architecture into the act of simply designing, its association with minimalism is still vague. Projects like Muji’s series of prefabricated houses then can be agents for exchanges surrounding structures and displays.
Following their line of prefabricated timber homes, lifestyle brand Muji recently launched Plain House—a translation for Yō no Ie—targeted toward suburban areas in Japan. With the increasing urban density in many mega-metropolises, the designers respond to a growing demand of affordable housings away from city centres. Although distance might pose problems in living standards, it gives the inhabitants the ability to immerse themselves amongst nature where their homes are situated. Using this interaction of the inside and outside, Muji created an open-plan single-storey design with three full-height openings for visual connection and flexibility in interior configurations.
With a simple and functional style, Plain House is consisted of white walls and pale wood surfaces. While the interior is rather straightforward, the outer patio is partially indented for a cozy gathering zone. The interplay of elevational contrast gives this dwelling a programmatic complexity; the entire structure is lifted to further differentiate ground levels. Where the outer deck signifies boundaries, the extended ground below implies activities beyond the home.
Functionality is crucial in architectural compositions. However, efficiency in assemblage and adaptation to surrounding contexts are the main factors in deciding the outlook of Plain House. With ready-made materials and interlocking parts, a directness is required in order to quickly respond to buyers’ needs. Here, clients come from diverse backgrounds with multitudes of preferences, therefore, a neutral architectural object with simple assembling methods and comprehensive setups should be favoured. This new creation of Muji is a smart basic canvas, in which dwellers are artists and furnishes are palettes.
Plain House is an excellent instance of minimalism as an outcome of technical pursuits. The extensive sequence of functionality, technicality, and aesthetic (in that order) creates a sophisticated equation that requires creative thinking for solutions that can accommodate contemporary living demands.