Japanese houses are characterised by minimalism, quality materials, and optimally used space. This refined style has gradually found its way into British architectural design, increasingly in popularity and becoming more widely well received. Once deemed 'too modern' for European tastes, we are now embracing the sleek and contemporary designs previously exclusive to Japanese architecture. The house we're looking at today, designed by Tokyo and London based experts Astronaut Kawada Architecture, is actually located in rural Hampshire! The project evolved from a farmer’s longhouse, set on a rural hillside. The longhouse formed the core of the design, with the addition of extensions and an extensive restructuring of space. The aim was to capture the original spirit of the farm, whilst creating a modern, liveable home which fully connects with the surrounding landscape.
The design is structured with a scattering of rendered walls, stone, and glass, embedded into the side of the hill. The use of glass allows daylight to filter into the structure, purifying and animating the interior. The infallible attention to detail which is demonstrated in the design of the grounds and the exterior is also present inside the house—just see for yourself!
Japan is a country of contradictions and contrasts. On the one hand, it offers flash cities like Tokyo, which are so densely populated that housing is a true rarity. On the other hand, the islands are defined by sparsely populated green pastures. It's unsurprising then, that the glamour of the city and the serenity of the countryside are combined to form this magnificent example of Japanese design.
The house links below ground to the kitchen and dining space that is cut into the hillside. This impressive and inventive structure should be at odds with the typical farmhouse façade, but a great deal of care has been taken to blend the new buildings in to the environment, and all of the elements seem to fit together harmoniously. After all, it is our differences which make us special, and it's no exception when it comes to our homes!
A white exterior wall runs across the garden, leading to the access point to the lower floor. The modern intervention is absorbed as part of the landscape, mingling with the contours of the hillside. Depending on the angle and perspective, the extension can appear striking and bold, and at other times, look subtle and inconspicuous, hidden in the shade of the trees.
A grey, white and black colour scheme sets a precedent for the rest of the monochrome interiors. Reflective black surfaces allow the light from the large windows and spotlights to bounce back into the room, keeping the room bright and providing a sleek finish. A white kitchen island contributes a dynamic contrast to the charcoal tones, and is perfectly on trend.
In the living area, the influence of Japanese architecture is clear. The high space is characterised by the basalt stone floor that follows through from the outside. The space is open and fluid, so that the occupiers can utilise it in a way that suits their needs and lifestyles. It's easy to forget that we're taking a tour of a house in the British countryside: this cool, contemporary living area could easily belong to a house in the middle of Tokyo!
The perforated and folded steel staircase and balustrade is the key feature of the 'transitional zone' in the house. It connects the more intimate lower floor to the larger and more open double height living space, taking us up to a gallery area that faces out onto a selection of 3 metre high glazed openings. Through the glass panels, the view over the farm is in plain sight, reminding us of the agricultural history of this special location.
A large bedroom with an open plan en-suite bathroom dominates most of the top floor, exploiting the vast quantity of open space in the original bar, with its 'longhouse' proportions. In the centre of the room, a decadent aluminium bath tub provides a focal feature that really stands out. We also have to mention the toilet, which apparently enjoys 'the best view in the house', with a view over the valley beyond!
The line of sight is uninterrupted in this seemingly never ending open-plan house. Rough, industrial materials give an edge to the home which reminds us again of the Japanese influence that have made this project so remarkable. Stark white walls are the perfect match for the grey floors and imposing steel work of the staircase. The colours and materials balance each other out for an overall streamlined and contemporary look.
If you found this project interesting, take a look at the following ideabooks: