From Publishers Weekly
"The small abode has become all the rage in Japan," architect Kengo Kuma declares in the foreword to this inspiring book, which should appeal to fans of the small home movement in the U.S. as well. Brown (Small Spaces; The Japanese Dream House) presents 18 residential buildings in his photo-packed volume, all of them built within the past five years. Many of them were designed by leading Japanese architects, such as Tadao Ando and Shigeru Ban. And although their actual floor spaces may be too small for most American readers-they range from 540 sq. ft. to 1,730 sq. ft.-the volume is so full of ingenious ideas that it's a good bet for anyone trying to maximize the space and light of a small residence. Architect Hoichiro Itai's house, for example, manages to squeeze a garden deck, a study, three bedrooms and a sunny communal dining space into 995 sq. ft. Another house makes the most of a small footprint by setting the entryway between two glass-walled garages, so that the entrance resembles an elegant auto showroom. And a third fits a workspace, a bedroom and a bathhouse all in a long, narrow lot that was once a driveway. But the most impressive aspect of all these homes is the bright, airy feeling they manage to convey within in their tiny confines. As Kuma explains, "Focusing on the essentials and a strong sense of poetry ... they are creating, within finite quarters, a refined living space, generating new and important ideas." Brown's excellent textual commentary will help readers bring those important ideas into their own homes.
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Four people living in less than 1,000 square feet may sound cruel and unusual by North American standards, but these ultramodern Japanese homes are a testament to using every inch of space to the fullest. Each design makes the featured home feel much larger than it actually is thanks to open-concept layouts, neutral materials, and clever storage ideas like removable kitchen floor panels that hide infrequently used storage. Other clever solutions for living well in limited space include a series of skylights that allow light into a windowless bedroom, and garage door-style retractable windows that open up three storeys to visually expand what might otherwise be a dark, claustrophobic live/work environment. (Style at Home)