red architecture references japanese culture to design a simple timber home in new zealand

red architecture references japanese culture to design a simple timber home in new zealand

when red architecture was commissioned to design a ‘sophisticated, modern family home’ for a site in tamahere, new zealand, they responded with two simple and unadorned timber volumes. occupying a leafy, rural site, the private dwelling takes inspiration from the japanese word ‘shibui’, which refers to an aesthetic of restraint and subtlety. 

red architecture references japanese culture to design a simple timber home in new zealand designboom

all images by larnie nicolson and jonny davis

 

 

the brief from the client was to build a generously sized home that also facilitates connectivity between spaces. despite boasting a large footprint, the residents didn’t want to feel overwhelmed by the volume, but instead guided on a journey though the architecture. with this in mind, shibui house is designed by red architecture to enhance the experience of travelling through the home.

red architecture references japanese culture to design a simple timber home in new zealand designboom

 

 

the project is composed of two volumes: the main house and a detached asymmetric timber-shingled ancillary building. applying the concept of shibui, the approach to the house is stripped of adornment. instead, just a gravel garden and long path build a sense of anticipation. intentionally, the simple spatial arrangement means the utilitarian workings and ‘hidden attainments’ of the house are not obvious upon arrival, rather a sense of restraint is employed.

red architecture references japanese culture to design a simple timber home in new zealand designboom

 

 

inside the house, the interiors are treated with the same shibui principles. in the gallery entry and adjacent living area the eye is directed away from the volume of space and towards a small internal zen garden. a sunken lounge clad in dark cedar is embedded in the garden, further reflecting the shibui aesthetic.

red architecture references japanese culture to design a simple timber home in new zealand designboom

 

 

the north and west elevations create visual connectivity with the setting, while the south sides have either clerestory windows or screened glazing in auxiliary spaces, ensuring good privacy and cross ventilation. connecting passages elevate the experience of the client’s artworks and enhance the sensory experience of material and texture. interior utility and service areas are hidden or recessed, with access via secondary passages. an expansive covered deck also allows exterior circulation of the home, devised to support social interaction across the building’s footprint and eliminate spatial boundaries.

red architecture references japanese culture to design a simple timber home in new zealand designboom

 

 

timber siding was chosen to clad both the main dwelling and a semi-detached pavilion containing a children’s sleeping and play area. the understated yet tactile materials, palette and textures used inside and out are a direct response to the shibui discipline. the materiality reflects an economy of means in arriving at a balanced, sculptural composition. the intention was to capture that ‘quiet feeling’ through the visual dichotomy of simplicity and uncontrived complexity.

red architecture references japanese culture to design a simple timber home in new zealand designboom

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RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIORS(1421)

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