A beautiful home with an intriguing layout

April Kennedy April Kennedy
大東の家, アトリエ スピノザ アトリエ スピノザ Scandinavian style corridor, hallway& stairs
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Japanese homes are often designed to focus one's attention on the beauty of nature. Natural window views are carefully framed, cut-out panels are used to filter sunlight and create dancing patterns on the floors, and courtyards are often filled with simple garden foliage. This special relationship between Japanese homes and nature may date back thousands of years, but it's still an area that provides rich inspiration for modern Japanese architects. The home we will explore today has one such private courtyard that provides a central focus. It also has skylights, interior portals and a very variable relationship to the great outdoors. It comes to us courtesy of architects Atelier Spinoza. Come with us on a photo tour to see what we mean…

Scandinavian-style exterior

The two-storey home has a simple balcony and U-shaped layout. Visitors also pass a small tree as they enter. As with many modern Japanese homes, it has minimal decoration and an almost Scandinavian-style exterior. The raw, cool textures of the bare concrete ground and walls has been offset by warm timber walls and golden downlights. Let's have a look inside…

Clever use of urban space

The home feels large inside, so it's interesting to see that the home is actually quite compact when seen from the rear exterior. The wooden wall is quite high and this gives the occupants a lot of privacy. It also makes the home feel like a private oasis. The treetop we see here lies in the main courtyard and forms the focal point of the home…

Internal courtyard

On entering the home, we are struck by the natural warmth and peace of the interior. There are few furnishings and the wooden floorboards, cream walls and a beautifully illuminated tree dominate the space. There are no jarring colours or harsh edges. Instead we have the enveloping warmth of natural textures and soft, earthy tones. Finally, note how large and spacious this interior feels.

Interior portals

If we step back, we get a better sense of the relationship between this courtyard and the interior of the home. Under natural lighting conditions, we can also see how light penetrates the upper levels as well. In fact, weaves throughout the home with the aid of interior portals, skylights and large openings. There are no strict boundaries between internal and external spaces. The natural elements of air, light and wind are allowed to flow almost uninterrupted throughout the entire home.

Japanese steps and transition points

If you have explored our other properties, you may already know of the interesting approach to transition points in many Japanese homes. As occupants move from one activity to another, they are encouraged to shift focus with the aid of architectural elements such as steps. Here, the transitional point is marked with a white pebble floor.

Integrated kitchen

The U-shaped layout of the home provides a series of natural dividing points within the living area. Here the edge of the courtyard has been used to form the wall of the kitchen. This is accentuated by a shift in the ceiling height as well. Nevertheless, the kitchen is closely integrated into the living area on the right here. This has been done with a minimalist white palette and simple kitchen design.


The architects have taken an unusual approach to the meeting points between the walls, ceilings and floors. The wooden ceiling stops just short of the wall here and a series of skylights or roof lights have been installed. These run parallel to the main lines in the room and serve to continue the interrupted geometry of the space. They also throw beautiful shadow patterns on the floor. As we mentioned earlier, the simple beauty of these transitory patterns are often used in Japanese home design.

Hungry for more Japanese inspiration? Check out: 9 classic features of Japanese interior design.

What do you think of the courtyard in this Japanese home? Just let us know in the comments field below!

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