There’s something so appealing about Japanese architecture, the open spaces and sense of purity is unique to anywhere else. To be honest, you don’t see it all that often in other parts of the world, but when you do it really stands out because of the surrounding houses or those that are close by. I guess that’s why these sort of builds are better in their own area, for example Philip Johnson’s Glass House that sits in the middle of its own piece of land. Or even what MUJI has been doing with their housing project in Japan, building a whole area of houses that all match up and have the same aesthetic. Saying that, a lot of these houses designed by Japanese architect Shinobu Ichihara are situated in residential areas but he seems to have a knack for slotting them in without looking too out of context, still ‘relevant’ is a good way of putting it.
One thing that I’ve always had mixed feelings about is the use of concrete, it’s such an interesting material when used in architecture as it evokes senses of cold and an industrial look. But at the same time, often used in combination with wood and a minimalist backdrop, you can create quite an incredible concoction that’s both well balanced in terms of shades and tones, also in the materials and techniques, which isn’t often talked about. In my eyes you need to work with a variety of different materials to get that attention to detail, it can really make a difference when you walk through a space and feel all these surfaces. It’s also important to note how this affects the lighting, the shadows will form differently on concrete for example, which tends to darken up and create an interesting dimension.
Shinobu Ichihara, the architects work that I’m presenting to you all today, has many of these traits in his work and I was struck by his brilliant planning and also his idea of embedding elements in to the build. A couple of major areas that were interesting include the raised floors, keeping each space at different levels, thus giving the space depth and also dividing a big area. I also liked that in most of the builds he made the stairs a big feature, and adapted them in to each scenario in different ways. Most are pretty classic looking, but the third from last image shows a set of stairs intertwining in to the actual wall and you can see it popping through the ceiling. I love this as it takes a totally different mentality to design something like this, and it also adds an element of quirkiness. I hope you like the photos and you’ll head over to his website on the link below to see more.