I picked up a book called “Spaces” by Michael Freeman a few days ago—a small square book that was surprisingly over 200 pages long. I’ve finally finished going through everything, and I’ve chosen some of the designs I found interesting. The images below are all taken from the book.
Inside, Freeman looks at the use of traditional Japanese housing in a variety of different modern spaces in Japan, taking note on its “different cultural approaches” where it “provides some of the most interesting solutions to living in spaces that are more than usually restricted”.
Different elements of Japanese housings are considered in the book, but I liked the homes with the cramped spaces—especially the bedrooms. Or more like the lack of it. The rooms can be used both as a living and sleeping area, where at night futons (mattresses) will be put out to sleep on, and during the day can be folded up and stored away. This used to be quite common in the past, and since there’s no dedicated space just for sleeping, the rooms can be used flexibly and with ease for various purposes. And sleeping on the floor isn’t as restless as many think. Tatami mats—rectangular flooring made from woven igusa straw—creates a strong but equally comfortable surface to lie down and do other activities on.
The first design is by architect Toshiaki Ishida.
A thin strip of a building, almost hard to believe someone could actually live there, let alone even think to build a house.
Its outside a somewhat sharp looking stainless steel, the inside made from cement—a soft gray tone.
Curiously, the colors seem dull and simple, but its subtleness gives a rather light and cozy feel to the home. And while the houses on this page look plain and dull at some point with all the concrete walls and open areas, one feature the designs in Japan can surely be known for is its attention to detail. You’d be surprised by the amount of detail put into these Japanese homes…from the way a cupboard opens or the presence of a lightbulb, each and every element is looked at with care.
The second home below (designed by Tsutomu Matsuno and Kumi Aizawa) is another one built from a cramped looking area, built in the space between to buildings.
But the door opens up to a spacious gallery.
And the large glass panels give a open feel to the space.
And finally the sleeping area on another floor of the building.
Tatami mats for the floor, and the futons can be seen in the far corner. The mats are made so that one rectangular square fits approximately one person lying down and two standing up.
The next one below is a bathtub that’s built into the ground, and I really like the idea of living close to the ground—nowadays everything is just being built upwards.
Designed by Makoto Yamaguchi
And then back to bedding. The last few photographs taken from the book all show the lack of furniture in the space. At night a nice bed can be laid out, and at other times can be used for multiple purposes.
The one below is designed by Jun Tamaki.
And finally the one below, designed by Yoko Kinoshita and Makoto Shin Watanabe—a small room dedicated to sleeping, all four futons spread out for the family to sleep as one.