While simplicity reigns in this minimalist home, a complex configuration of spaces ensures it’s bright and airy inside out.
With its white facade and boxy form, this home stands out in the bustling neighbourhood of Neyagawa-shi, Osaka.
Featuring straight lines, boxy forms and subtle textures, this minimalist house seems to be one of the few outstanding homes within a busy neighbourhood. But there’s more to it than meets the eye when it comes to the dwelling’s design and construction.
Nestled within the dense residential enclave of Neyagawa-shi in Osaka, Japan, the house was originally the client’s childhood home. In order for him to continue living there with his wife and two children, a revamp was called for as the existing structure was cramped and light-deprived.
“The homeowner has lived in this house since childhood, so when he commissioned us to design a new house here, we began by soliciting extensive input from him because he knew the characteristics of the site intimately,” says the principal from Shogo Aratani Architect and Associates.
“Following our discussions, we decided on a house that would enable him to discover new things within a place he was familiar with.”
As there was a lack of natural light and high dampness in the house due to the site’s constricted layout, the key design intention for the house leaned towards bringing in a flow of natural breeze and light.
To achieve this, Shogo Aratani maintained the outline of the original layout and employed the use of boxy, voluminous forms juxtaposed with a series of small gardens on three sides – this configuration efficiently allows natural breezes and light to cross through the property.
The key spaces in this house are connected to the central living area through a double-height ceiling.
The courtyard brings fresh air and soft diffused light into the interiors.
One of the most notable elements of this home is the stairway, which weaves dynamically across the double-volume space in the living area.
The home features a serene palette comprising light wood tones and white-washed surfaces, complemented by bright bold hues in certain rooms.
“The solution was to build as close as possible to the neighbouring houses, tracing the silhouette of the previous structure and carving out gardens on three sides,” the architect explains. “This enables air flow that passes down the gaps between the houses to enter the concave gardens, flowing into the interiors along with natural light.
“What’s fascinating about this design treatment is how the boxy features take the form of four light-filled courtyards inside the house, bringing in soft diffused light from four directions.
“We designed four light wells, which resulted in four volumes within the interior space,” Aratani explains. “For each volume, we agreed to use symbolic colours to accompany the primary neutral theme.”
At approximately 1,300sqf, the interior of the house comprises clearly defined common and private spaces, each connected to the central living area, which features a double height ceiling. Here, the main living spaces on the ground floor are flanked by four rooms, including the bedrooms on the second floor.
“For each space, there is no hierarchy,” the architect explains. “Each space is equal. The key areas like the living and dining rooms and kitchen are in the centre, representing the heart of the home. Surrounding them are the bedrooms so that there’s clear delineation between the private and common spaces.”
The interior also reflects the minimalist outlook of the exterior, but takes on a vibrant and lively atmosphere – thanks to the alternating use of wood and white-washed surfaces to create a serene ambience. For example, timber flooring was used in some rooms, while other spaces feature ceilings and interior fittings adorned with wood surfaces – this creates subtle visual interest to break the monotony of repetitive materials.
The bright pink wall of this room helps to break the monotony of the home’s wood-dominant surfaces.
Expanded metal lattice structures were used to let light into the home.
“Simple materials were chosen to complement a neutral palette,” says the architect. “Wood was used for the floor and the fittings as these are the areas which residents have direct contact with.” Upstairs, the all-white space with wood surfaces is punctuated with brightly coloured walls that envelop the interior volumes – a nice touch to create focal points that aren’t too loud.
A blue feature wall highlights the study area in one of the hallways, while pink and purple hues bring out a feminine look in the bedrooms. Downstairs, lavender-toned couches complement the white-washed and wood-dominant surfaces.
A notable feature in this house is the central stairway, which weaves across the double volume space in a dynamic fashion. Expanded metal lattice structures painted in white were used for the stairs’ handrails, as well as the balustrades that wrap around the second floor’s corridor. This material choice offsets the box-like volumes inside this home, visually balancing the scale and proportion of the interiors.
“The metal lattice also serves to let light through, which contributes to the bright, airy and lightweight atmosphere we were aiming for,” Aratani adds. “Ultimately, our intention is to create a living environment that is conducive for a growing family. We hope that the house will allow the family to enjoy their life in this neighbourhood, both now and in the future.”
WHERE TO GO
Shogo Aratani Architect & Associates, www.ararchitect.com
Text LILY ELLE WONG Photos SHIGEO OGAWA VIA SHOGO ARATANI ARCHITECT & ASSOCIATE