Book: How to Make a Japanese House

Book cover of 'How To Make A Japanese House' which shows a white two-storey house that is tall and slim at the front
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 Japan's domestic design scene. Projects inside the book include...
(Image credit: press)

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.

'Rainy Sunny' house under a blue sky in Tokyo

'Rainy Sunny', Tokyo, by Mount Fuji Architects.

(Image credit: Ryota Atarashi)

Interior view of 'Rainy Sunny' house through the windows

'Rainy Sunny', Tokyo, by Mount Fuji Architects.

(Image credit: Ryota Atarashi)

Interior of 'Tree House' showing a central wooden structure and wall to wall shelving

'Tree House', Tokyo, by Mount Fuji Architects.

(Image credit: Ken’ichi Suzuki)

Close up view of the spiral style wooden ceiling inside 'Tree House'

'Tree House', Tokyo, by Mount Fuji Architects.

(Image credit: Mount Fuji Architects Studio)

'Life in Spiral' house in Tokyo during the day

'Life in Spiral', Tokyo, by Hideaki Takayanagi.

(Image credit: Takumi Ota)

'Lucky Drops' house in Tokyo which is narrow, white and has an arched roof

'Lucky Drops', Tokyo, by Atelier Tekuto.

(Image credit: Makoto Yoshida)

View from above of X-shaped 'Oshikamo' house during the day

'Oshikamo', Toyota, by Katsutoshi Sasaki.

(Image credit: Toshiyuki Yano)

'Sunken House' in Odawara during the day

'Sunken House', Odawara, by Kazuhiro Kojima.

(Image credit: Sadao Hotta)

'Hojo' house in Tokyo which has an exterior made up of horizontal metal rods

'Hojo', Tokyo, by Akira Yoneda.

(Image credit: Tomohiro Sakashita)

Ground level view of 'Hojo' house and its metal framework

'Hojo', Tokyo, by Akira Yoneda.

(Image credit: Tomohiro Sakashita)

Close up of metal stairs and view of the opposite building through the metal rod structure of 'Hojo' house

'Hojo', Tokyo, by Akira Yoneda.

(Image credit: Tomohiro Sakashita)

Interior view of 'Clover House' which has white, curved walls

'Clover House', Nishinomiya, by Katsuhiro Miyamoto (KMAA).

(Image credit: Toshihiro Sobajima)

Exterior view of 'Alp' house in Tokyo which has three roofs

'Alp', Tokyo, by Akihisa Hirata (HAO).

(Image credit: Toshiyuki Yano/Nacása & Partners Inc)

View of the steps and plants at 'Alp' house

'Alp', Tokyo, by Akihisa Hirata (HAO).

(Image credit: Toshiyuki Yano/Nacása & Partners Inc)

Interior view of 'House in Buzen' from above through the glass ceiling panels

'House in Buzen', Fukuoka, by Makoto Tanijiri.

(Image credit: Toshiyuki Yano)

Interior view of the kitchen and dining area at 'House in Buzen'

'House in Buzen', Fukuoka, by Makoto Tanijiri.

(Image credit: Toshiyuki Yano)

Interior view of the living space at 'House in Buzen'

'House in Buzen', Fukuoka, by Makoto Tanijiri.

(Image credit: Toshiyuki Yano)

Interior view of the hallway at 'House in Buzen'

'House in Buzen', Fukuoka, by Makoto Tanijiri.

(Image credit: Toshiyuki Yano)

Exterior view of the GC Prostho Museum Research Centre in Kasugai which was constructed using wood creating a grid effect

GC Prostho Museum Research Centre, Kasugai, by Kengo Kuma.

(Image credit: Daici Ano)

Close up of the interlocking wood structure at Yusuhara Bridge Museum

Yusuhara Bridge Museum, by Kengo Kuma.

(Image credit: Takumi Ota)

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.