Depending on your feelings about exposed concrete, this Japanese home could be either your sweetest dream or your worst nightmare…
The night-time view from the front of the building is an extraordinary one indeed. The many angles and lines of the cement façade are brought into relief by subtle lighting placed around the edges, while the vast expanses of blank, expressionless wall are only occasionally interrupted by a vibrantly illuminated window, making these points of brightness stand out all the more. The architect has clearly delighted in the challenge of coming up with a silhouette that is not remotely, in any conventional way, house-like; ask a child to draw a house, and it certainly wouldn’t come up with anything even close to resembling this. Like all good architecture, then, this is innovative, but not purely for the sake of it. The different elements of the building each make sense in its overall context – the erratic angles complementing the unapologetically contemporary cement, and the cement complementing the haphazard windows.
The shapes used to form the exterior walls of the building, though mismatched, are anything but arbitrary, coming together to create a diversely textured surface that contrasts sharply with the smooth uniformity of the cement itself.
For all the building’s bold asymmetry, there are a few areas where equilibrium is key, most notably in the careful positioning of the garage space and the large upper window. Just next to these, however, this sense of stability is thrown off by the section of the facade that appears to be balancing very precariously on a corner.
Every angle has been carefully considered. This part of the house, for example, provides a unique tunnel for viewing the sky, the grey walls perfectly coordinated with the deep blue above.
If you expected that the interior of the home might be more, well, homely than the exterior, think again. Here, too, cement reigns, and twists, turns and unexpected angles are everywhere. Notice how the garage is visible from inside the house, thanks to a giant window. Perfect for keeping an eye on a prized car – or just showing it off to guests.
Furnishings have been kept to an absolute minimum, and those that are present are extremely understated. This allows the remarkable structure of the house itself to carry the show.
One would probably imagine that designing staircases to accommodate all those sharp bends would be a pretty challenging task, and as this picture amply demonstrates, one would be absolutely correct. However, being forced to accommodate such an unusual structure is what has made these staircases so special. With regularity an impossibility, randomness seems to take over, with steps of unpredictable styles, sizes and shapes providing a strong visual counterpoint to the smooth, uncluttered cement surfaces that surround them.
In the bathroom, too, there is little adornment. The sinks have been made out of glass, as if the designer really wanted them to be invisible and this was the next best thing.
It would be inaccurate to claim that any of the furniture in this house was in any way ostentatious, and the bath tub is no exception. And yet, with generous proportions and a sunken form more often found in opulent surroundings, there is a hint of understated luxury here nonetheless.