House in Nanakuma

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This Japanese house, created by Movedesign, is endearingly quirky inside and out – although in totally different ways…

The exterior

The sharp angle of the roof cuts boldly across the sky, the grey colour of the paintwork beautifully enhanced by the vibrant blue of the sky behind. Seemingly randomly sized windows, also positioned seemingly randomly on the wall, make this view appear like some abstract work of art, black quadrangles dotted across a washed-out canvas. The placement of the windows makes it hard to imagine the layout of the rooms within, as they don’t seem uniformly laid out enough to indicate a specific number of floors.

​The kitchen

Here, as outside, simple design and clean lines are key to the aesthetic. The difference on the inside of the house, however, is that the traditional Japanese influence is a lot stronger, as evidences by the amount of pale wood used and the measured grids and straight lines that feature so heavily. Of course geometry plays an important part in the look of the building from the exterior, too, but it is much less rigid, much less measured, more haphazard and unpredictable and unashamedly contemporary. In this space, there is an undercurrent of nostalgia for the old ways, and particularly for the old ways of design. And yet there is a sense of something so fresh about this space – largely   generated by the fact that the same bright materials for the floors, worktop, ceiling and wall panels – that it’s indisputably very much of the current moment.

It’s also by looking at this pace that we begin to understand how those irregular windows we saw from the outside actually work as part of an interior. Keeping spaces open and allowing light to move freely from are to area – by, for example, using those gridded sliding doors instead of solid ones – means the rooms are bright despite their small and unevenly spaced windows.

​The stairs, basement and landing

From this angle we can get an even better idea of the way light is working here. The central part of the house is made up of a staircase that takes us from the basement to the ground floor (where the kitchen we just saw is located) to the upper storey. Skylights above flood this key area of the house with light, which passes through all levels of the house thanks to the empty spaces at the centre of the stairwell and between the steps.

Meanwhile, that utterly uncluttered minimalist aesthetic is interrupted by gorgeous basement-to-roof inbuilt bookcases, which create a focal point for the entire home. Notice how perfectly those wonderfully unexpected windows sit in the midst of all those books.

​The steps

Taking a closer look at the stairs themselves, we can see how perfect their functional, unfussy aesthetic is for the rest of the space, and well-chosen the grey-green colour of the railings used is. Apart from the books on the shelves of the bookcases, they provide one of the only significant colour contrasts in the interior; almost everything else is very consistent in its colour.