The Very Small Home

The Very Small Home

Japanese Ideas for Living Well in Limited Space

Book - 2005
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The Very Small Home is an inspiring new book that surveys the creative design innovations of small houses in Japan. Eighteen recently built and unusual houses, from ultramodern to Japanese rustic, are presented in depth. Particular emphasis is given to what the author calls the "big idea" for each house--the thing that does the most to make the home feel more spacious than it actually is. Big ideas include ingenious sources of natural light, well thought-out loft spaces, snug but functional kitchens, unobtrusive partitions, and unobstructed circulation paths.

An introduction puts the houses in the context of lifestyle trends and highlights their shared characteristics. The Houses section details each project the intentions of the designers and occupants are explained. The result is a very human sensibility that runs through the book, a glimpse of the dreams and aspirations that these unique homes represent and that belies their apparent modesty. The second half of the book is devoted to illustrating the special features in the homes, from storage and kitchen designs to revolutionary skylights and partitions.

Building small can be a sign of higher ambitions, and those who read this book will undoubtedly grow to appreciate that building a small home can be an amazingly positive and creative act, one which can enhance one's life in surprising ways. In The Very Small Home , Brown has given home owners, designers, and architects a fascinating new collection of ideas.

"Azby Brown has done it again. I loved his first book, Small Spaces, and this one goes further yet in helping to demystify the art of the small house. The book is a must for anyone wanting to understand how to do more with less when it comes to home design. These tiny and exquisitely designed contemporary Japanese homes have so many lessons to teach readers around the world about how to make their homes both functional and beautiful, whatever the size. And as for the quality of the houses illustrated, they're extraordinary. I, for one, couldn't put the book down, and I suspect it will have the same effect on a great many readers."

Sarah Susanka, AIA, Architect and author of The Not So Big House series, and Home By Design
Publisher: Tokyo ; New York : Kodansha International : Distributed in the U.S. by Kodansha America, 2005
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9784770029997
Characteristics: 111 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 32 cm
Call Number: 728.37 BRO


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ksoles May 07, 2015

"A house in Japan has to be small in order to be considered well designed," asserts architecture professor Azby Brown. Indeed, building on tiny, awkward sites has become a Japanese speciality; with his book "The Very Small Home," Brown hopes to share this specialty with Western readers and enlighten them on how to live contentedly in tight quarters.

Certainly, the book proves that both engineering-wise and spatially, the Japanese push the envelope in residential design. It first highlights 18 awe-inspiring projects running from traditional to futuristic and housing childless young couples, medium sized families and mature singles. Each project has a "Big Idea," something that succeeds in making less look like more, such as a bold atrium that covers nearly the whole front of the Sumrie-Aoi.

"The details make [a well-designed small house] truly inhabitable," says Brown and, in the second part of his book, he provides a summary of such details. He suggests we need a new way of thinking about small homes, a type of New Japan revolution focusing on light and efficient use of space. For a house to gain seemingly unattainable space, ingenious storage, space-saving kitchens, partitions and more all have a role.

Given the financial restraints faced by first-time buyers all over the developed world, Brown provides assurance that, given some serious thought, small really can mean perfectly formed.

Nov 04, 2011

An interesting compendium of high-end housing that is well illustrated with photographs and exploded sketch floor plans. These "Japanese ideas for living well" with 1 or 2 bedrooms contrast with Canadian concepts. Contrary to this book's title, although small in footprint, many of the multi-storey homes in this book are substantial in total floor area. It is noteworthy that the Japanese building code does not require handrails or many electrical outlets in these multi-storey homes. The book concludes with a useful chapter on design details for the compact home. In many instances, the architects have skillfully admitted light into interior rooms in ingenious ways.


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