In today's 360°, we look at a home that is dominated by that natural material that forms the bones of a traditional Japanese structure – wood! And it's not just on the facade that you'll see wood being put to use, but throughout the warm and inviting interiors as well. Designed keeping in mind a minimalist aesthetic, which is inherent to Japanese architecture, the architects SHU have crafted a home that leaves hardly any carbon footprint and is simple in its style.
Since Japan has a rather hot summer and blisteringly cold winters, it is important that the houses here are equipped to deal with both climes. You can see many of those features incorporated here. Plus, Japanese architecture has evolved over the years to blend traditional forms with modern, high technology, and this house is a great example of that.
While timber takes the foreground, it is timber that has been painted black that frames the whole structure. A large roof and deep eaves ensures that the house is protected from the harsh sun while the frame of the house supports the weight of the roof. Most roofs in Japan are sloped, instead of flat, to let rainwater flow off easily.
You can see that a modern genkan has been incorporated here where guests can take off their shoes and be greeted by the hosts. And what Japanese home would be complete without a Zen garden, pebbles and all?
No natural material says warm and cosy like wood. This area that includes both the small dining area and the living room is bathed in wood (and light, thanks to the large glass windows) and many traditional Japanese features. Take the living room on the right, for example – there's a chabudai, which is a table with short legs used while sitting on the floor while the floor itself is decked out in tatami, mat floors made out of rice straws. To separate the dining and the living space, there's also a shoji – a sliding panel made out of rice paper and framed in wood, which can be drawn anytime privacy is required. Who said modern meant foregoing the old?
The small but efficient kitchen is located adjacent to the living and dining space. The architects certainly took a gamble by experimenting with a different wood grain and by using nearly the same shade of wood as the flooring for the cabinetry, but it's a risk that has paid off. In a small space like this, using uniform (with a slight difference) materials seems to have opened up the area making it look more airy and spacious. The monotony of the wood though is broken up the white tiles and the window band that looks out onto the living room.
To get more ideas for a small kitchen makeover, speak to our experts.
Less is more is a philosophy that is intrinsic to the Japanese design aesthetic, and you can see the full impact of that in this small but cosy bedroom. There isn't a shred of furniture here that isn't absolutely necessary. Even bedside tables have been foregone in favour of a travel bag that has taken up permanent residence on the side of the bed.
The floor-to-ceiling sliding door wardrobe ensures that storage is taken care of while being completely non-intrusive. Nestled under the sloping roof, it almost feels as if you're in a wooden cabin somewhere in the wilderness!
The bathroom is one of the only spaces in the house that doesn't have a wooden flooring. This tiny space has a simple granite flooring but that doesn't mean wood can't play its role. Instead of using wall tiles, the architects here opted for, you guessed it, wood! The crisp white walls opens up the space further making it seem airy and inviting.
To see another minimal and comfortable home, check out A narrow home with big ideas.