The age of modern architecture certainly has its foundation in the ever-popular maxim that less is more. Although it is a phrase now exploited to tedium, it remains a cornerstone of universally recognised good architecture, and the reign of simplicity is far from over.
A pioneer of the minimalist movement, Mies van der Rohe, is the architect renowned for starting the less is more revolution, and his excellent track record with astonishing buildings strengthened this approach. He, and many other influential architects of the time, believed in extreme clarity and simplicity of architectural projects, in order to emphasise the implied freedom assured by free-flowing spaces. Another of his popular quotes are: “I don’t want to be interesting. I want to be good.” This is exactly what minimalist design entails – the sacrifice of ornamentation and attention-grabbing elements for a high-quality whole.
Today we will take a look at a contemporary house which fully embraces the principles of minimalism with excellent results. This family home in South Korea has simplicity as its underlying principle, but manages to be warm and inviting. Let’s see how this is achieved.
The exterior of the home is built up of neat and solid materials to adhere to the minimalist style. The structure has many large windows to filter sunlight throughout and allow all of the rooms to be continually warm.
The house has a gable roof, made out of zinc, and embossed vertically along the downward slope of the roof on both sides. The dark charcoal colour of the roof is echoed in the façade of the home to create continuity and an edgy look.
The house takes up a total area of 120.02 square meters, including a porch and a deck. The rest of the property contains several stone elements for a rough and natural look, with the addition of local as well as planned vegetation.
Yunsung Housing are the architect behind this project, and they are based in Ansan, South Korea. The company emphasises that the most important design point with this house was to increase the utilisation of space inside the home.
As we can see here in the living room, it is spacious enough for multiple relaxation and entertainment purposes. A large sliding door lets in ample natural light, and allows for the opening up of the room to the porch for extension. At the back we can see a ladder leading to the attic space on the top floor.
The flooring in the house is completed in a series of dark red wood laminate, giving the spaces a warm and homely atmosphere. At the back of the living room we can see an application of tile in a pattern that looks like elegant natural stone. This simple addition immediately brings a sense of sophistication to the area.
The kitchen of the house takes up part of an open-plan area, next to a dais on which the dining room will certainly be situated. The clients for the project hand-picked the kitchen fixtures themselves. The cabinetry is in a cool and calm heather-grey colour, complimented by wooden counter tops. The light scheme includes an industrial-inspired pendant fixture above the task area, which compliments the home’s modern look.
The walls here, as in the majority of the interior spaces, are a bright white. This has the primary advantage of making the spaces feel larger by increasing perceived depth. It also creates a clean atmosphere. In contrast to the brilliance of the white, however, the frames of window and doors are in a dark wood. This continues the dark wood skirting that borders the walls where it meets the floor as well.
Minimalism does not necessarily mean that there is no space for more vibrant decoration and furnishings. Here we have a view of the open-plan living area – to the left of the image we see the living room and beyond it the kitchen, to the right we can see a family bathroom.
A little alcove between these areas hosts a small cabinet and basin. This is a handwashing station both for the bathroom, as well as for general household purposes. This small space is quite different from the other more neutral areas, as it has colourful tiles adorning the lower part of the walls in this space. This brings a lively look to the house, but its limitation to only this alcove ensures that it is not overwhelming. Keeping things simple once again.
Now for a real treat. The house makes use of a rather unusual material for the exterior surfaces, but it is certainly an option that has received some attention and may hold many benefits. The architects made use of ceramic siding for the exterior finish. That’s right, you we did not make a typo, and you didn’t read it wrong. Ceramic tiles for the exterior walls!
With the advent of modern construction equipment and manufacturing processes, we now have that old familiar friend the porcelain ceramic tile, available to us for far more applications than just the bathroom walls. Manufacturers can now produce larger and thicker tiles in a variety of textures and patterns for outdoor use, which do not absorb water and so become resistant to cracking in fluctuating temperatures. What’s more, with the proper treatments and grouting, the siding will likely need no further maintenance after installation!
The product used on this home has a gentle relief and the division lines between tiles are almost invisible. This creates a beautiful, seamless appearance with a texture that needs to be appreciated from up close. This brings us full circle to the greatness of minimalism: simple yet extraordinary.
Take a look here at a home inspired by another giant of modern architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright.