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Monday, May 7, 2012

Less is More

By Savitha Hira


Ar. Akiyoshi Nakao blends the best of both worlds as he holistically fuses the tenets of traditional Japanese architecture in a contemporary idiom… 

Japanese architecture opens up a think-tank in the design of building interiors and exteriors. Traditional regional elements that treat space as the fundamental communiqué and the essence of design, play with concepts of fluidity, congeniality and generosity in a candid demeanour; as if addressing a living-breathing entity.

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Preserving overall harmony is key in Japanese design; this means that the inside-outside equation, contextual elements, use of natural material to the extent possible, especially wood, are aspects integral to the project. This, combined with minimalism co-opts the cultural bent of its people.

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Akiyoshi Nakao of Osaka-based architecture firm, Coo Planning, reinstates his traditional belief in the ‘power of space’. His design for a house in Hamadera in Osaka Prefecture Sakai City is a two-storied wood frame construction for a single family. The home literally plays peek-a-boo with the different spatial elements in its architectural makeup. 

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Facing north, the house is bound by its neighbours on its east and west, while on the south, it faces a rich green panoramic view of the Suwanomori Shinto shrine at a short distance. The architectural plan pays special attention to this singular feature by incorporating a strategic window on this wall that perfectly frames the view. Incidentally, expediently positioned windows and skylights, usher in a healthy dose of sunlight and ventilation besides anointing the interior ambience with an interesting play of chiaroscuro elements. 

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Situated on a narrow plot, the house portrays typical elements of traditional Japanese architecture where double height ceiling and fluid spaces can easily modify the room size by choice via the use of screens or movable paper walls. The large, single space offered by the main hall can therefore be divided according to need; by removing certain walls or by temporarily joining spaces to make more room for guests.


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The white, natural and dark brown Larch plywood that completely envelopes the home internally gesticulates via a textural vocabulary, where different colours and natural grains of wood define spaces. Overall, the home is an admirable marriage of values that are metaphoric to the juxtaposition of tested design vs. contemporary design. 

5 comments :

  1. Good design considering the space constraints, and also neat and clean details with regard to timber structural elements and finishes. I think architects need to revive the use of timber detailing in their buildings as the last decade has seen the extensive and sometimes monotonous use of glass and steel in almost all the major projects around the world.
    Posted by Anup Magan on Linkedin Group: London Architecture Network in response to IAnD's discussion thread – Can the Japanese tenet of flexible spatial configuration be the answer to the space constraints of metropolitan living?

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  2. minimal yet beautiful...like the design nd detail both

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  3. I think that alot can be learned from the Japanese use of space and simple sacred design. I like the use of natural woods with no chemicals or vocs and the small spaces are very energy efficient. Rice paper screens are nice simple separation and community rock gardens make great gathering space for mindful rests. So much can be doe in small areas. I love the challenge of making the most out of limited space and doing it aesthetically.

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  4. It looks comfortable and open ....space is quite just need the japanese traditional music.
    Posted by jean homsy

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  5. I think that incorporating Japanese concepts into building design for American homes is a great idea!

    Openness allows flexibility, but it also gives the feeling of spaciousness.

    Tom Latham, a New Hampshire/Vermont Architect, promoted openness as a way to gain spaciousness with his passive solar Housewright designs of the mid to late 80's. I worked with him and was impressed with his concepts and incorporated a lot of his design principles into my own later designs. Unfortunately his concepts of making do with less seemed to evaporate with the behemoth homes that became common in the 90's and beyond.

    Tom's homes looked bigger on the inside, where people live, than on the outside - - very functional. Unfortunately this didn't fit into the "my dog (house) is bigger than your dog (house)" principle that seemed to be behind the behemoth's surge.

    Taking a look at Japanese design principles as well as another look at Tom Latham's work seems to be a good direction in which to explore. More affordable housing that requires less energy to heat & cool - - what a novel idea!

    Thomas
    Posted by Thomas A. Peterson on Linkedin Group: Residential Renovation Design Group in response to IAnD's discussion thread – Can the Japanese tenet of flexible spatial configuration be the answer to the space constraints of metropolitan living?

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