Hearth Architects, Japan
We live in a world that seems to pride itself on the accumulation of ‘stuff’. Minimalist living is countercultural and the movement expresses the ethos that there is more joy to be found in owning less than can be found pursuing more. It’s a humble way to live and reflects a mindful mindset.
We love the work of Japanese studio, Hearth Architects and this family house in particular found in Japan’s Shiga prefecture named the Kyomachi House.
Hearth Architects, whose studio is also in the same locale, designed the two-storey residence for a very small block sited where two roads merge on the southeastern side. To bring as much sunlight into the dwelling as possible, the architects created a double-height void with an indoor garden. A skylight allows the sun to penetrate through and shine on the zen garden which is visible from most areas of the house. A symbolic deciduous tree gives leafy shade in the heat of summer and in winter let’s plenty of direct sunlight through its bare branches to warm the family who live in the home.
Extensive use of stunning natural timber and the tall rough-rendered walls in the atrium garden create an organic, textural quality to the atmosphere of the home. As does the plentiful natural light and ventilation provided by the two large openings on either side of the garden. The garden acts as a buffer offering the residents privacy from the street.
The timber floor mirror the wood-lined ceilings creating a warm and welcoming interior. Slatted timber screens across openings on both levels of the house are a great design accent that let natural light in while offering some privacy. There are lovely little ledges and benches sprinkled throughout for the owners and their children to sit and interact. Many built-in pieces of furniture such as the built-in sofa, storage cabinets, wardrobes, desk and bookcase maximise the clever use of space.
Obviously this project was photographed for the architects upon completion and before the owners had moved all of their belongings in. So I’m sure the house would not be as minimal in reality, as it appears in these pics. However, the architecture and the dwelling itself is not a ‘McMansion’ by any means and by that we mean that it is not a ‘mass-produced style’ dwelling. Though it is not a large house on a huge block of land, the architects have created a humble house, constructed with high-quality materials and craftsmanship, using a consistent, simple, restrained design aesthetic and executed a detailed and well-thought-out interior and exterior to give the residents of the home maximum quality of living in a space that embodies the saying ‘less is more’.