Homegrown Ideas

A new book on Japanese houses traces the conceptual connections between three generations of designers.

How to Make A Japanese House
By Cathelijne Nuijsink
NAi Publishers
328 pp., $55

At first glance, it would appear that the irregular shape of the courtyards of Kazuyo Sejima’s Okurayama Apartments are a reaction to the Japanese penchant for geometric minimalism. But it turns out that the Pritzker Prize–winning architect was driven by a simpler grouse. “I deliberately put loose soil in the gardens instead of a perfect pavement,” Sejima told the writer Cathelijne Nuijsink for her recent book, How to Make a Japanese House. “Japanese people are getting too afraid to even touch soil.”

The forms and spaces of today’s Japanese homes are often so inventive that it is difficult to discern the motivations of their designers. Nuijsink navigates this terrain by organizing her 21 case studies and interviews by the decades in which the architects were born, making it possible to draw connections both within each generation of architects and between generations. “This dual structure makes it clear that what we have here is not just a single type of architecture—modern Japanese architecture,” Nuijsink writes, “but also an exposition of the way this design discipline is directly handed down, to wit: from teacher to pupil.” Here, the author discusses three homes that represent the wide scope of her book.

More from Metropolis

Recent Projects