Tucked away in the corner of Osaka Prefecture lies Toyonaka City. Here, dense modernist structures interwoven with traditional houses makes up the residential zone’s urban fabric. Minimalist buildings with contemporary aesthetics also appear over time to diversify the aesthetic of different neighbourhoods, including Toyonaka House by Matsuyama Architect and Associates.
In a palette of grey and brown surroundings, Toyonaka House is a geometric white cube that extrudes from the ground like a sculptural monument. The two-storey dwelling envelopes itself with a flat facade that continuously runs on all sides with few openings. In contrast, the entrance is carved with a double-height trapezoidal opening, giving a dedicated section for parking and occasional people watching. A mass of warm timber floats above this area. It readjusts the facade’s symmetry, which harmonises the built and void space. Not only does this volume act as a focal point to the front view, but it also serves as an indication of the building programme inside.
While the exterior channels a monolith, the interior is a porous configuration of spaces. Small courtyards, hidden from outer view, are introduced to the structure to bring in natural light and navigate ventilation. At the same time, they create private pockets for familial gatherings with a breath of fresh air. Inside, the wooden surface stretches above and below, covering ceilings and floors for a cozy atmosphere. An open floor plan helps connect a series of spatial elevations, from the ground floor to the mezzanine and the upper bedroom.
For efficient use of space, cabinets are embedded inside walls and partitions; this design decision cleans the interior of any unnecessary extrusions. Simple railings run parallel to the hollow staircase, zigzagging like a fine line that links all the levels. Modern furniture with a darker tone is strategically put to signify the functions of different spaces. The tall ceiling wraps the understated interior into an airy and intimate residence with a multitude of openings, bringing in a generous amount of indirect natural light.
Although completed in 2012, Toyonaka House still holds its aesthetic relevance in the current times with the forward vision of Matsuyama Architect and Associates. Turning a solid face toward the exterior and refocusing design intentions toward the interior, this project is able to take on a contemporary appearance, yet with a humanist approach towards living.