A deceptively spacious Japanese home

April Kennedy April Kennedy
大高の家/ House in Odaka, 市原忍建築設計事務所 / Shinobu Ichihara Architects 市原忍建築設計事務所 / Shinobu Ichihara Architects Livings modernos: Ideas, imágenes y decoración Fibra natural Beige
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If you're considering building a house on a sloping site, you'll love the Japanese home we will explore today. It is a minimalist abode with lovely views and a bright, modest presence. The home is located in Fukushima, Japan and covers 116m2 over two levels. The upper level enjoys superb views of the surrounding cityscape, while the lower floor has been partially submerged and levels out to meet an outdoor porch. The home has also many features typical of modern Japanese dwellings. There is a tatami room, lots of wooden features and a very calming, minimalist ambience. At the same time, the creators Shinobu Ichihara Architects have arranged the home with an unusual layout. Come with us on a photo tour for all the details…

Bright open design

The home has a modest, simple exterior. The windows and doorways are large and the colour scheme is mute and natural. The home is primarily made from wood, but concrete is also present. This is a building open to the natural elements and at home amongst its surroundings. It is a newly built home and there is sure to be more of a surrounding landscape garden in the future. See how the lower level is partially obscured from the front view of the home. We'll check this out later with a side view. For now, let's look inside…

Streamlined entrance

The home has extremely streamlined interiors with unbroken lines of sight. In the hallway here, we have built-in cabinets on the right that fit neatly into the corridor. There is also a distinct step halfway into the home. This is a typical element in many Japanese homes and is used to denote the boundary of the entrance or Genkan area. Note the unusual asymmetrical placement of the ceiling light.

Unusual corridor design

The upper floor is divided into a series of rooms with three walls. These are open to the hallway or corridor. The lack of a fourth, enclosing wall allows lots of natural light to flow between the various living areas and makes the modestly sized home feel quite spacious. The barriers however also serve to create very distinct and separate living areas. See the step halfway down the corridor. This marks the edge of the tatami room we will explore next…

Tatami room

The tatami room is a typical Japanese room in many ways. Obviously it has a floor made with tatami mats. But it also has a beautifully framed view designed and placed to remain the focal point in the room. This is a common feature used by many Japanese architects and designers. This kind of feature is said to help the occupants enjoy contemplating the serenity and peace of the natural world.

Minimalist white kitchen

The kitchen is white, simple and very humble. There are no wall cabinets and the lack of ornamentation really helps this kitchen blend seamlessly into the simple design of the rest of the home. There are handleless kitchen cupboards, an aluminium benchtop and a large, functional kitchen sink. Also, note the built-in shelf that runs along the window on our left. It has been placed at the exact same height as the kitchen bench. This is yet another example of how the architects have focussed on symmetry to create a sense of unity within the home.

Unique bathroom design

The bathroom is generously proportioned, but the architects have used elements common in many small homes. The underside of the bathroom sink is exposed and this makes the bathroom feel airy and simple. The cabinets have a very streamlined design and the single light has been mounted on the wall. The entire effect is bright, airy and uncomplicated. This is a bathroom where the white, white walls and the view out of the window remain dominant.

A view from the side

In this side view, we get a better sense of the strong incline of the land. The home sort of hugs the hillside and the earthy ochre exterior helps it blend into the landscape. This all contributes to the modest appearance of the home.

For more architectural inspiration, check out A narrow home full of bright ideas.

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