A Secret Japanese Garden and Home

April Kennedy April Kennedy
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This award-winning Japanese home by TN Design is a quiet masterpiece full of secrets, surprises and unexpected portals. It's built in a brutalist and minimalist style complete with austere concrete cast walls and few if any adornments. There are no front windows and on approach, there is little indication of the surprisingly beautiful corridors and unusual configuration inside.

Much of the simplicity aligns itself to the Japanese aesthetic principals of wabi-sabi. This is a concept derived from Buddhist teachings about imperfection, the acceptance of transience and the part nature plays in our understanding of all this. 

From the rough, concrete walls to glass corridors and the ever-present flow of light and sky, come explore this fascinating home through a series of beautiful photos.

An unassuming façade

minimalistic Houses by TNdesign一級建築士事務所
TNdesign一級建築士事務所

コンクリートの圧迫感を抑える控えめな外観

TNdesign一級建築士事務所

The concrete facade of this home presents one of the most unassuming exteriors we have seen for a while. The property is situated on a small hill and the ground height of the home has been lowered. On crossing the threshold, we pass a front lawn that rises up on a slope to meet the front door, while the path gently descends into the earth. The sharp, bronze edging on the path is a subtle hint of the attention to detail that follows.

Sophisticated simplicity

Inside, we enter a surprisingly bright, space. In contrast to the concrete exterior, here we have glassy transparency, light, air and a series of internal courtyards and rooms separated only by transparent glass. The floors are made of polished wood, the walls of bright, bright white and there is even a courtyard garden with a single tree. For more examples of Japanese garden design, have a look at minimalist garden design.

A glass corridor

minimalistic Houses by TNdesign一級建築士事務所
TNdesign一級建築士事務所

ゲストルームは畳でくつろぎを

TNdesign一級建築士事務所

Concrete walls rise high all around us and ahead, we see an intriguing glass-walled corridor. To enter, we need to step up into the corridor. This step is a common feature used in Japanese architecture to emphasise the threshold between different rooms. In Japanese it is called shiiki and is used to emphasise and elevate the transition point from one to another. 

A side view

From this angle, we can see the exterior of the glass corridor again. The steel grey stones on the ground outside seamlessly blend in with the concrete facade, while a weathered steel panel provides privacy. From the angle of the sunlight hitting the concrete wall and bouncing gently back into the corridor space, it becomes apparent just how cleverly the design has provided the space with abundant light without sacrificing any privacy. 

A living area full of light

minimalistic Houses by TNdesign一級建築士事務所
TNdesign一級建築士事務所

統一されたデザインの家具

TNdesign一級建築士事務所

In this living and dining area, high, white walls, a white ceiling, black furniture and fine black detailing on the glass walls create a simple, clean ambience. The room possesses a spacious airiness, but by now it has become apparent that there isn't a single window to be seen at chest height. So all this light comes from the large openings above head height. These openings don't just offer views of the sky and tree-tops, but complete and utter privacy.

An elevated view

Up the spiral staircase, we discover the roof terrace. There is little indication of the spacious light and surprises downstairs. Up here, there is little but a mountainous view in the distance. But from the high detailing and innovative design downstairs it is clear that this is a deliberate spaciousness. It brings to mind the words of Laozi, the founder of Taoism. Laozi believed that a room’s true beauty exists is in the empty space within the roof and walls. This idea is often called the ’aesthetic ideal of emptiness’ and permeates throughout this home.

If you enjoyed this ideabook, you would love this Ideabook homify 360°: a house in Shimane Prefecture, Japan

What do you think of this unusual home? We'd love to hear in the comments below!
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