Japanese facades

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?

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

fachadas fachada casa

28 Comments
  • XSportSeeker

    February 12, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Can’t quite explain, but I kinda like it that way… maybe just because it’s different from what we’re used to, but I feel there’s something more to it.
    When I’ve been in Japan , saw thin buildings, ridiculous tight park spacings, but overal, the streets looked more clean, more planned, more uniform… somehow it was more relaxing to walk on the streets there.

    Houses and buildings seemed to get my attention more there than if I was on a city I don’t know here in my own country.

  • lol

    February 12, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Why do you repeat yourselft 2 times again the same thing 2 times ?
    Why do you repeat yourselft 2 times again the same thing 2 times ?

  • Tornadoes28

    February 12, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Great pics. I like the unique modern looking houses.

  • Tornadoes28

    February 12, 2009 at 10:09 am

    I also notice a lot of rusty old signs or awnings in front of many homes.

  • mortonsalt

    February 12, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    i was equally impressed wit the vehicles in front of the houses. looks like the 11th pic down has a lambo covered up and another one has a tricked RX7 in front of it. i guess I’m trying to say these houses seem to be a massive status thing and the people who live in them want everyone to know.

  • paul

    February 12, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    some of the exteriors look pretty good.

  • CrazyCCA

    February 12, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I was impressed by the presence of european cars in front of the houses. 😀

  • Apple Otaku

    February 12, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Some of those homes look like they’re made out of popsicle sticks.

  • oliphant

    February 13, 2009 at 4:24 am

    great post! I really like looking Japanese architecture and the interplay of light, space, asymmetry. Its a different outlook to western structures.

  • johnson's johnson

    February 14, 2009 at 8:19 am

    In regard to the cars out front, I think that if you are able to afford to buy a home in Tokyo, etc., that an expensive Jag or Maserati is probably not much of a stretch. Everybody that lives around there probably already knows how much it cost to buy a house there so to imply parking an expensive car out front is like putting a ribbon and bow on your house is ridiculous.

    Car implying status though? You think?

  • Dr. Johnny Skeptic

    February 14, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Some of these are beautiful! These would stick out in my neck of the woods, but they are just gorgeous!

  • anpanman

    February 14, 2009 at 11:10 am

    the density and varitey of their buildings can making walking around older neighbourhoods a real treat. i was always impressed with thy typical city houses that had built up “walls of green”, which were stands filled with plants grown to provide a barrier between the encroaching street and the front of the house. the 2l water bottles placed around the buildings to ward off the pissy cats were a little ugly and on a hot day the street still smelled like piss (like any big city i suppose).

  • Charlie Lesoine

    February 14, 2009 at 11:52 am

    There are neighborhoods in Los Angeles and San Francisco where I can imagine all but 2 of the most narrow of these houses fitting in perfectly.

  • peter harris

    February 14, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    we all know that large is beauty
    and small is not so
    the question here I think is
    how to make a dr who police box

  • James

    February 14, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Great pics! Have you ever seen this one near Ebisu station? i think it’s brilliant! http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=35.648448,139.709873&spn=0,359.995258&z=18&layer=c&cbll=35.648814,139.709386&panoid=QgRIAFemZtjLayghy05oyQ&cbp=12,32.89395611344207,,0,-21.454276341338993

  • lon bordin

    February 14, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    I feel for the Japanese… When are they ever going to get to say, “Get off my lawn!”?

  • alafista

    February 14, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Wow some of those houses looked really great. I wonder if they cost a bomb

  • devlim.com

    February 15, 2009 at 3:37 am

    So many Great car,some house has great design, hope one day i can work at there

  • Locksley McPherson Jnr

    February 15, 2009 at 6:31 am

    Nice photos! Interesting to see different styles of construction on the other side of the world. True, we are obsessed in the way our roof slants or pillars and arches etc.. But yet when we step inside we find the same old box rooms. Whereas I have noticed from other photos of Japanese homes that the attention to detail once inside is astounding.

  • Jamaipanese

    February 15, 2009 at 10:27 am

    why am i only interested in seeing the cars 😀

  • Joe B

    February 16, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Some look exactly like when I lived there thirty years ago.

  • ray

    February 17, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Great pictures. How are you capturing the color so vividly? Especially for the sky? # 6 and 7 I really wanna know your technique. What settings?

  • jessica

    February 22, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    i’ve heard that in Okinawa almost all of the buildings are made from concrete and other stong materials that are not always the most aesthetically pleasing to guard the interiors from harsh weather.
    it would be a pain to have to keep rebuilding pretty facades if they were made from material that wasn’t very strong but just looked nice wouldn’t it?
    ^-^

  • zarpancho

    February 23, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Where are the windows??

  • M

    February 27, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Too cool for school!

  • AT

    August 23, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Hey, really need to know this – where is the house with the orange and gray color scheme from?? as in can you give me the details on it please if you know them- name of house/ location/ architect/ materials??
    need to know for a project… kinda urgent – Thank you!!

  • Jay Failing

    January 15, 2011 at 1:37 am

    I really enjoy the austerity of design and juxtaposition of
    materials, the metal and masonry and glass with cool
    spatial forms. There is a definite link or parallel with
    Scandinavian Architecture, less is more with handsome
    references to wood and nature. As I understand it,
    sometimes there will be a post Atsugi or similar word,
    which still has natural form or bark or the like, as respect and reference to the source. I am inspired and will return to study the Japanese bldgs. I live in Hawaii,
    and East meets West here, even in Architecture.
    Much Aloha, Your friend Jaeger

  • Mike

    September 2, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Some buildings in Britain look like these, though they are mostly considered ugly and stupid. The University of Lincoln has some paticularly odd choices. The student union (once an old railway building) has a big red box sticking out of it, and a career office thing has all bizarre angles. The science building looks like it was made of leftovers, some bits are brick, some are concrete and some are corrugated metal XD.
    Also some of the starker, grey concrete blocks look like the thrown-up tower blocks of the 1960’s here. They were utopian dreamworlds for all of a week, then they became hellish vertical slums.
    Also the houses with the covered up Lambo look a lot like some in Ely!