A home is more than a mere shelter from the natural elements; it is also place to switch off from the constant stimulus of the modern world and rejuvenate ourselves. Japanese architect Arai Chongwen has considered all this and more in the beautiful timber home we will explore today.
Chongwen wanted to create a home that would enrich the occupants' lives with the tranquil benefits of the natural world. He did this by utilising natural materials, designing with light and creating a home with a lovely sense of indoor/outdoor flow. The two-level home has internal courtyards and a strong distinctive style. But it's also a simple residence with bare furnishings and a light minimalist touch. This reflects the traditional Japanese concept of embracing the imperfection in a design. So, come with us to explore this home in all its natural beauty.
The narrow wooden facade has a gentle, earthy feel. This is also reflected in the subtle stone and wood open parking area and steps that lead to the entrance courtyard. It may be tall and rather impressive, but it is also a very private facade. There are just two windows overlooking the front road and the rest of the home has been obscured by a series of fairly loosely arranged wooden beams. These cover the entrance we will explore next.
The large wooden wall we saw earlier has been used to create a very bright and private front garden entrance. A tall tree and the varying heights of the foliage and architectural elements here create a bright, airy feeling. Finally, we have wooden walls and raw concrete steps that add to the earthy feel of the space. Note the small outdoor seating area beside the entrance.
On our left we have the main interior courtyard. This very private outdoor area has been completely opened up to allow for a free flow of light and air into the living room. This sense of natural flow is accentuated by the use of simple, wooden floors. Inside, wooden floors and furnishings dominate the combined living and kitchen area.
This is the same living area we explored a moment ago. This time, we have the courtyard obscured by Japanese shoji screens. These allow for lots of privacy and shelter without blocking out the natural light. While this kind of screen was traditionally used for interior walls, it has become common to use them externally these days. The traditional rice paper panels are delicate, so they are often reinforced with glass when used in this manner.
This second living area is connected to the courtyard we explored earlier. A cosy little reading nook and study has been created by installing a raised wooden platform. This allows the space to retain the bright, open and airy feel of the home. At the same time, it also creates a strong sense of boundaries around the little wooden nook. Finally, the architect has designed built-in wooden furniture to create a continuous, uncluttered feel throughout the space.
The pale timber bathroom has an unusual wooden ceiling. This adds a unique touch to an otherwise simple and minimalistic room. The bathroom sink is raised off the floor, the mirror reaches from wall-to-wall, and the sparse wooden furniture has been built into the space. As with the other areas, there is little to distract from the simple beauty of natural light.
If you'd like to see more natural homes, step inside The dream home with a tropical twist… it's magical!