Design Architecture New Japanese House by Alts Design Office Is Influenced by Traditional Design By Lloyd Alter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Lloyd Alter Updated July 12, 2019 Alts Design Office Share Twitter Pinterest Email Design Tiny Homes Architecture Interior Design Green Design Urban Design It is all about the progression through the spaces. We have often seen new Japanese houses that are...weird, and certainly not "traditional." Sumiou Mizumoto of Alts Design Office shows us a new house that is strongly influenced by traditional Japanese architecture. Alts Design Office The couple wanted the place to feel spacious and bright while keeping their privacy intact and blocking line-of-sight to the street-facing Southern side of the house. For that, we took inspiration from traditional Japanese-style houses to help us reconsider the relationship between the external structure and interior. Alts Design Office It's an interesting interpretation. When you visit the Katsura Detached Villa in Kyoto, you do not walk past a BMW. But you do walk through a succession of spaces and end up waiting in a little structure with a view framing the house. You don't just walk up to the door. In a North American house I would complain about the entire façade taken up with a carport. Alts Design Office Most of the traditional Japanese-style houses in the countryside have a gate and a pathway within a garden that leads to an entrance. Having a garden in front of the house allows passers-by and guests to rest their eyes on the garden first. We learned from this control of flow and line-of-sight, and applied it to the design of the house in a modern context. Alts Design Office As you walk through the front gate of the property, it leads you to the garden and then the house’s entrance, with the level of privacy increasing as you walk further into the space. We carefully designed the user flow inside the house, making sure to allow for smooth motion through the garage space, kitchen/living/dining room, bedroom, and bathrooms. It is all about the progression through the spaces. Alts Design Office The large windows in the kitchen/living/dining room bring the natural air and light inside, making the space feel spacious and imparting the feeling of being outdoors. The ceiling and roof of the living/dining room are set a little higher, and we used glass windows between the walls and the roof, creating an illusion of a floating roof that gives a provocative yet amusing look from outside. These glass windows also bring natural light to the home, making the room bright and airy. Alts Design Office It seems really big for a 1,600 square foot house, but that's because we are not used to the flexible, open and multi-use spaces that you often see in traditional Japanese architecture. Alts Design Office While Japanese traditional-style houses are a great example to draw from in designing a coherent relationship between an external structure and its interior, they have also been criticized for their dark interiors. Learning from this, we put a lot of thought into making the space bright and spacious to create a comfortable, modern house that fits today’s lifestyle. And such beautiful woodwork. This isn't weird at all, it's wonderful.