Japan is a country which is rich in culture and tradition, but also at the frontlines of innovation and design. Today, we will look at an impressive project from this wonderful country, combining minimalist design with natural, warm materials.
The Jozu house is a compact, but versatile home located on the outskirts of an upscale residential area in Tsu, Mie Prefecture. Wakayama Architects, the firm responsible for the project, wanted to create a modern building with a sense of personality. It is not difficult to concede that they achieved this goal.
A mixture of wood and modern building materials creates a contemporary residence well suited to our times and the needs related to it. Let's go take a look…
Here we can see the side angle of the house and its elevation. It is a narrow and elongated building, comprising of 104 square meters of floor area. We can see that the structure is slightly elevated here on a raised concrete foundation. The home consists of two storeys, with the bulk of space distributed vertically.
The bold structure features strong angles and the elements, including windows and extension, are either square or rectangular shaped. This is a style which fits perfectly into the paradigm of modern architecture and minimalist design. The focus on geometry is a distinguishing element in many contemporary residences, and as we know by now, minimalism is a touchstone style for the new projects that so often catch our eye.
The materials used for this modern home are also worth noting. We have already mentioned that the structure is based on a raised foundation, made of concrete. Concrete is certainly a building material that has gained much popularity in current architecture and design trends, and we can see it used in everything from entire homes, flooring and even decorative items. In this design, it gives a sense of balance and solidity to the structure, on which the other materials can extend the aesthetic appeal. The concrete base also seems to extend right from the court on which the home is built, integrating the structure with the environment.
The bulk of the house's structure consists of wood varnished in a rust-red colour. This gives the home a warm glow, whilst also being unobtrusive in its surroundings. Some of the windows are protruding from the building in white frames, which is a welcome contrast to create visual interest in the composition.
The second floor of the home consists of a spacious atrium which constitute the main living space of the home. The entire space, as we can see here, is decked out in timber - from floor to ceiling. the lightness of the wood species used in this interior creates as soft, natural feeling throughout the space, which is conducive to a warm atmosphere and simple living.
The walls are also painted white to suite the neutral palette of the wood, and complementing these materials in its simplicity. The white also allows for the boundaries of the space to seem further apart, making the room feel more spacious than it really is.
We can also see that the space is entirely open-plan, with features like extensive built-in shelves for storage space to free up more floor area. This allows for the atrium to be a multi-purpose area in which the owners can do whatever they choose.
At the other end of the atrium we saw in the image above, the home also features a small loft space nestled into the alcove of the ceiling. This entire section is, unsurprisingly, constructed of the same timber used for the flooring and roof of the atrium. The use of this material allows for a sense of continuity and wholeness in the house.
The small but convenient loft space can comfortably be used as a bedroom, or even a study. The space also features a window to ensure the distribution of natural light. We can see that the window is slightly off-centre in the home's exterior wall, and this is an interesting play with balance in the structure's design.
Lastly, we take a look at the balcony extending from the atrium on the second floor and seen on the facade of the home. This feature is also constructed of wood, but of a different variety than the timber used inside the home or on the exterior, or at least treated in a different way. This treatment will surely ensure that the balcony is weather-proof and protected against the elements.
As we can see in this image, the balcony is quite narrow—in line with the overall aesthetic of the home. It is, however, more than sufficient for its purpose, and a welcome addition. We can also see that although narrow, the feature stretches along the entire length of the house, strengthening the horizontal features in order to balance with the verticality of the design. A small house, but one that is architecturally beautiful as well as warm and inviting!