There is perhaps no country in the world today that accepts the new without rejecting the old, as Japan does. Tokyo might be a bustling megacity, but its residents still often abide by old traditions. Contemporary life can and does co-exist with the old world. Which brings us to today's 360° project: a sublime family home in Japan that fuses traditional Japanese architecture with modern elements. Japanese architecture has many overlapping features with minimalist style, and that can be seen throughout this simple yet beautiful home. Designed by Bouteian, the one-storey abode is awash with a sense of calm brought about by the masterful use of natural materials and fluid design.
Simply looking at the pictures can give you a (vicarious) sense of what it would be like, after a long day, to come to this tranquil home and recharge your batteries…
Our first glimpse of the house shows us its simple elegance. The recently renovated home has been in the family for generations, and so the owners wanted to maintain the older traditional features (like the tea room, for example) while modernising the functionalities. The placid yellow on the facade lends an air of calm while the traditional courtyard is a survivor from the pre-renovated structure.
The areas have been divided into the main living space (the structure on the right) and the tea room on the left.
This lovely Zen garden with its stepping stones connects the tea room to the main residence. This space has been retained almost in its original format, with all its traditional architectural features. While it may look suitably ad hoc, every element in here has been carefully composed and arranged to represent a certain feature of the Zen philosophy combined with principles of nature.
Recreating a Zen garden in your own home doesn't have to be a daunting task if you apply its basic principles of design, and pick the right kind of plants and other accessories.
Too often, modern homes tend to place their furniture in close proximity with each other. The opposite holds true in Asian-inspired design. First off, furniture is kept to a minimum and what is there is usually spaced far enough to give plenty of breathing space. Plus, walls are kept to a minimum and the exteriors are brought inside through the use of large glass windows or screens.
Here you can see the open-plan design that retains only the bare necessities. The glass windows and the skylight suffuse the place with soft natural light.
This is the entrance to the tea room that is adjacent to the main living quarters. Called genkan, this traditional Japanese entryway is where guests are greeted as well as the place where shoes are taken off and replaced with indoor slippers. The design is simple with a lot of wooden elements and a few bamboo accents.
Although much of the original structure has been retained, this entrance (with its soundproof doors) is a new addition as the owners wanted the tea room to be an even quieter space for relaxation.
Known as chashitsu, tea rooms are an integral part of Japanese tradition. Partaking tea is an almost meditative experience for the Japanese and so a separate tea room is akin to a room of meditation. Here, you can see all the features of a traditional tea room: shoji screens made out of rice paper that ensure that natural light is not blocked; tatami mats, and a tokonoma (seen on the left, this is a recessed space where art and artefacts can be displayed).
Check out A modern and simple Japanese home, to see more Asian-inspired architecture.