This is the interior courtyard of the Kanamori House in Japan built-in the 1970’s. It is by Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect who is known for his simple forms and honest, yet intricate use of materials in residential design. He is a real favorite of mine.
This space, the interior courtyard of the home, is a prime example of an Ando-designed interior. Material-wise, there is a lot going on here. Concrete is used here in place of plaster and paint on the walls and as the formwork for the staircase. Ando gives us consistency of material through the main surfaces of the room. There is a subtle texture in the concrete. Holes have been drilled at regular intervals which add visual interest and uniformity to the composition. The concrete is interrupted by tiling of the floor. This tile is the same tone as the cement so it continues the uniformity, yet introduces a new pattern and texture to the room. These two materials are unified, yet different. The focal point of the room, the window and the door, are made of glass which provide a contrast in lightness with the massive concrete.
What is the experience of this exquisite detailing? They come together as a chorus of subtle tones, textures, and lightness. As occupants of this space, I think, aren’t overwhelmed with the theatrics of materials, but are allowed to sink their thoughts into the room. The presence of the Self remains central to the experience. This is one of the main tenets of modern design I think. While this space was created in the 1970’s, it looks as modern as a 2012 construction. Good design can do that. Here is an image of the same space from the other direction: