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homify 360°: A contemporary Japanese home

Sheila Byers Sheila Byers
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We must confess we have a weakness for contemporary Japanese architecture , which offers projects that are both balanced and innovative, comfortable and refined, sophisticated without being pretentious . It does not surprise us to learn that Japan is the country with the highest number of registered architects per capita, forcing the creators to excel and try to offer their customers unique and customized projects. Thus, each new home is an opportunity to push the limits of what is usual and design an innovative building.  

Today on homify 360°, we look at a home in Sayo in Hyogo Prefecture, about two hours from the cities of Kyoto and Osaka. The creators of the office Den Nen Architecture (DNA) built this house project in steps to meet the needs a young couple.

Inclined roof

The first thing we notice in this beautiful night photograph is the clearly pronounced tilt of the roof that echoes the natural topography of the ground. Indeed, there is a drop of more than one storey in height (about five meters, approximately) between the front and rear of the house. Faced with this rugged terrain, the architects really had only two options: either they denied this particular topography by digging in the ground or by floating their project, or they worked in harmony with the environment. Fortunately, they chose the second option, designing a project that gently hugs the uneven soil. 

In addition, we note that the architecture of the building and its exposed wooden structure  have a contemporary character, with its openness and its uniform black finish, but its articulation and proportions still reflect elements of traditional Japanese architecture.

Covered front

We are now facing the front of the building, which contrasts sharply with the back shown in the previous photograph. If that was simple, open and airy, we are here confronted with a much more articulated and complex arrangement: a massive wall of rough concrete anchors the project into the ground and gives it a minimal character. This arrangement also gives more privacy to the interior spaces facing the public space of the street. 

In addition, this perspective allows us to appreciate the work of the pitched roof that seems to rise to touch the sky. Note also that the linear treatment of its structure, consisting of a series of wooden joints that slightly overhang the exterior walls, is derived from the Japanese tradition.

Organised levels

The cross section of the building is an important graphic document in order to understand the spatial organization of the project. Here we can understand the steep slopes between the front and rear of the building and the organization of the different interiors, all  interconnected physically by a series of stairs and visually by terraces that open the rest of the house.

Dining room

Now inside the house, we can enjoy the spatial qualities of the place. Again, the protagonist of the space is of course the sloped roof. The interior walls have the same dark and matte quality that is contrasted by the bright light and the natural wood floor.

In addition, the large windows in the common area of the kitchen and dining room allows the interior to connect with the adjacent outdoor terrace and beautiful open green panorama.There is a quaint charm that comes from the omnipresence of wood, the natural setting of the house and the wood stove that sits to the right of the photo.

Living spaces

The lay out, with is varying altitudes and plateaus, creates a clear distinction between the interior spaces without having to install walls. Thus, the kitchen and the dining room overlook the living space in an open arrangement that is very contemporary. Consistency is observed in the use of coating materials: most surfaces are wood painted with black matte while the wooden floors bring light and airiness into the rooms. The small staircase unites this dichotomy of dark and light. At once simple and sophisticated, there is a serene atmosphere in this room that probably derives from the clever use of proportions and scales.

Master bedrooom

Last but not least, we look at the master bedroom, observing a slightly different design that allows us to appreciate the fine work in the design of interior spaces. We note that this space is much more closed than the living spaces, providing a sense of the privacy for this more intimate room. Also, to keep a nice bright atmosphere, the walls have been painted in light colours and architects have taken advantage of the generous ceiling height.

This completes our look at this stylish, contemporary Japanese home. For more in depth coverage of homes, have a look at the homify 360° section of out Magazine!

What do you think of this home? Let us know in the comments!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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