In Japan architects think a lot about how to build spaces where it is easy to live, they concentrate on making outstanding interiors. In western countries sometimes we just build to impress, we build houses with simetric and beautiful facades, we build houses thinking about how it is going to match the other houses around. But many times, in Europe, I’ve felt disappointed when entering inside a house with a beautiful facade and finding out a that the interior is horrible. On the other side, in Japan I always expect a worse interior than what I thought from seeing just the exterior of the house.
In western architecture plays with sharp lines, juxtaposition of light and shadows and symmetry. Roofs are high, the whole is more important than the parts, and the facade is important, is one of the most important things in a building, it has to be impressive (This comes from the greco-roman culture, think about the Parthenon for example).
On the other side, in the Japanese world, architects play with shadows, attention to details, asymmetry and horizontal. Everything is designed to live on the floor, the roof is not important. Details are more important than the whole. The traditional Japanese house embeds itself in the environment, the demarcation of interior and exterior is not clear.
Japanese house have details and are well finished even in areas that are not see. For example, the walls on the garden side are as important as the facade on the street side. On the other side, back in Spain I remember having seen houses with outstanding facades and then having a huge disappointment when discovering the backyard. In the western work, we like beautiful facades, we like symmetry. In Japan details in the interior are more important, those things that cannot be seen are more important than what you see.
Construction of Japanese houses is centered on satisfying the necessities of those who are going to live in it. I feel that sometimes the exterior is ignored too much in Japan. One of the biggest deceptions of Japan is how boring and monotonous are Japanese streets, buildings and houses in big cities. The facades are boring, they all have similar grayish colors, little windows are common… and sometimes there are house that do not even have windows!
This is my collection of facades I’ve made during the last month walking aroud Tokyo. Some of them are pretty cool, some of them are horrible, but I can feel there is a common pattern, a common style. Can you find the house without windows?