The online media explosion has given the world an unbelievable insight into the lifespan, style and exuberance of Japanese domestic architecture, a genre rich in adventurous form that shows no sign of letting up.
Across the world, the house has traditionally been the laboratory of architectural experimentation, with most, if not all, architects expected to work a domestic-scale apprenticeship before their career can progress. But the Japanese experience seems different still, both for sheer variety of stylistic and avant-garde approaches and for the relatively short lifespan of the finished product.
As a result, Japanese architecture has evolved in parallel to the Western tradition, with its domestic design often untranslatable in terms of building codes, material simplicity and planning and zoning: Japan is the Madagascar of architectural evolution.
Writer and regular Wallpaper.com contributor Cathelijne Nuijsink's new book 'How to Make a Japanese House' is part monograph, part anthropological explanation of the country's domestic design scene. Broadly divided into generations - featuring grouped works of those born in the 1950s, 60s, etc., the book includes projects by Kengo Kuma (opens in new tab), Jun Aoki (opens in new tab), Atelier Bow-Wow, Sou Fujimoto (opens in new tab), TNA (opens in new tab), Jun Igarashi (opens in new tab), Kazuyo Seijima (opens in new tab) and many more.
Nuijsink has lived and worked in Japan for several years and is well immersed in the architectural scene. Essays are paired with 21 case studies, each of which is richly illustrated with pictures and plans and questions about the nature of the brief, the approach and the ways in which domestic space can be made to define a very individual approach to architecture.
Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.