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Monday, January 21, 2013

豊前の家 in Fukuoka - Suppose Design Office

SUPPOSE DESIGN OFFICE built my mind-stretch of the day: a home in Fukuoka, Japan, that implies a tiny village of separate purpose-made structures in place of a unified shelter with separated rooms.
Concrete "streets" with a clear view of the sky make up the space between the village's structures, where hallways might stitch together the typical house. The village feeling is of course only a deception: carefully placed traditional walls provide privacy from the street and a glass enclosure over the "streets" contains the home.

SUPPOSE DESIGN OFFICE suggests the design is informed by the way children play:
When they are young, places like a narrow path between houses, the edge of a garden, the back of a shed, under the floor, or an open lot are the preferred playgrounds of children. Rather than a park or garden that was built to be played in, we wanted to make a house with a courtyard that would become a playground naturally... In that space the children can run around, you can enjoy a breeze while you eat, read under the sun, and fall asleep watching the stars.

Could I handle living there? It's gorgeous and it challenges my perception of personal space and the separation from the world which I associate with a home in a way that makes me want to drop everything and change the way I do things. Imagine the place at night! Holed up in the warm lamp glow of the reading room with your dinner guests or laying out a blanket to picnic in a courtyard with the night sky above; it's definitely got a romance to it.

At the same time it reminds me of a studio backlot. It's a funny phenomenon, when somewhere you live doesn't feel like it's your own; like you're passing through, only temporarily attached. It's a very specific feeling I felt in the dorms and one of the off-campus places I lived during college, which felt like summer camp: somehow more attached than I'd feel in a hotel room, but nowhere near a home experience. I'd typically sum it up to the crappy living conditions but to be precise what really defines any of the places I'd call "home" from my memory are the places that provided the quiet moments, the private moments that no one could ever see, that never get told because their magic lies in their secrecy.

Would I still be who I am at home with Jenny if we had a glass house? Or would the village of private rooms allow enough privacy? I'd love to take a trip to Fukuoka and find out; we'd only have to hop the fence and peek in through the side walls to see how the owners live!

For now, I've got the blinds open here, for our little view of a bush in Burbank. Check out the rest of the pictures of the Fukuoka home at the SUPPOSE DESIGN OFFICE website.

- Boa Simon,
writing from Burbank, CA

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