On today's 360°, we explore a serene family home in Tokyo that plays with volume and light to create a space where each room looks and feels slightly different, ensuring that there is a harmonious diversity. Designed by the Tokyo-based architecture firm Mizuishi Atelier, this 109sqm house is built over two floors that flows from one to the other seamlessly.
Taking a cue from traditional Japanese design, a large part of the house is decked out in wood and if not, then other natural materials are used. Since light is prioritised here, the design and colour scheme is kept neutral with no bursts of colour. Simplicity and minimalism is the order of the day here, the intriguing play of volumes doing most of the talking. If home is where you unwind and relax, this Japanese house is pretty much a sanctuary!
Restrictions associated with constructing houses in Tokyo is a common phenomenon, and it was no different here. The owners and architects had to keep a ton of building codes in mind while designing the house, the facade of which is a direct result of those restrictions—the horizontal layout and the placement of the windows for example.
Nevertheless, the architects have pulled off a rather impressive feat: the exterior of this house looks well-thought out, uniform and striking in appearance. The timber cladding used on the lower level and that standalone postbox impart immense character to the whole space.
As you enter the house, a traditional Japanese entryway or a genkan greets you. This is where you take off your shoes and slip into house slippers before entering the main portion. As is customary, the genkan is one step lower (typically six inches) than the main floor making it a transitionary space. Instead of the traditional getabako (a Japanese shoe cupboard), which are usually made of wood and bamboo, the architects have designed an in-built cupboard where both shoes and slippers can be stored.
You can already see the subtle differences in framing here—the door entrances become narrower and narrower creating a visual illusion of sorts.
These lightweight, floating stairs connect the different levels of the house, without visually breaking up the space too much. It is tucked away indiscreetly but still has an aesthetic function to it. A skylight on the level above allows light to flow unobstructed through the floors and keeps the entire space airy and free-flowing.
The wooden flooring and white walls create an openness that creates a perfectly crisp landscape in the house. If you are unsure about this evergreen combination, speak to our interior designers who can give you tips on how to make the most of it.
Finally, we come to this simple living room where the volume play is most evident. This allowed the architects to visually split up the open-plan layout and its different zones, without having to resort to walls and partitions. The dining area, for example, is placed under the white-painted ceiling while the living area occupies the area directly under the gabled roof emphasising its double height. The kitchen, on the other hand, is tucked away in an alcove of sorts and is independent from both the living and dining area. In the wrong hands, so many structural changes could have appeared jerky, but the architects at Mizuishi have done an extremely smooth job of it.
To see another stunning example of Japanese design, check out The Japanese home with two faces.
This gorgeous bathroom looks like it's straight out of an Asian spa brochure! Minimalism is an intrinsic quality of Japanese design and we see that reflected here too. We love how the almost-exaggerated use of wood is perfectly contrasted by the crisp white bathtub and surfaces.
Japanese-inspired bathrooms have been hailed as the bathrooms of the future because it's more efficient and minimises waste. This is primarily owing to the way they shower! The architects kept that model in mind while incorporating the hand shower that needs to be turned on only when you need it, and that little stool, sponge and ladle!