Japanese architect Yoshichika Takagi captures the beauty of minimalism in the House in Shinkawa. Stripped down to untreated wood, white walls, and dangling bare bulbs, this Japanese timber-framed home looks almost naked and unfinished in its simplicity. A tradeoff of this minimal design, however, is poor heat insulation. As a solution, Takagi added a corrugated plastic-clad indoor terrace to the southwest end of the home that, like a greenhouse, traps in heat to keep the living areas warm in winter.
At only 78 square meters, the minimalist House in Shinkawa may be small, but it has the benefits of low construction costs, easy maintenance, and minimal energy bills. The greenhouse-like terrace takes up a third of the indoor space and is easily the brightest area in the house with its full-height transparent plastic end wall that brings in heat and natural light. The bright and airy extension also helps make the small home feel larger than its actual footprint.
The timber home spans two floors, with the communal areas located on the first level. A wooden stairway leads up to two bedrooms, each placed inside a playful house-within-a-house structure. The two bedroom walls’ square window cutout and gabled shape reinforce the house-like appearance.
“This is a house with a space that looks like an interior as well as an exterior,” say the architects. “The space has a large air volume, covered with a roof and translucent surface which keep off the rain and wind. However, it doesn’t have heat insulation performance. It could be positioned on the extension of the Japanese traditional earth floor or the sun room seen in houses of Hokkaido. Here we call it a “terrace” because it is a half-exterior space that is bright and open. From spring to autumn, it works as a part of the living space. And in winter it works like a glasshouse, which keeps off the severe cold.”
Images via Yoshichika Takagi, © Yuta Oseto