To begin with, I believe that the form and light is principal elements of the architecture and through the understanding of these elements the magnificent architecture can be created. However, mostly architectural pieces (especially residential buildings) are created not just to admire, but to be part of our life. Therefore, design of the building has to be based on the precise analyses of people’s behavior – the building has to satisfy the society or be flexible to be changed by it.
The U-house in Tokyo, by Toyo Ito
The house was built in 1976 for a widow and her daughters. The request of the client was a space where strong relationship between family members and the contact with the soil and plants could be felt. Japanese family traditionally is closed to outsiders and forms a very important unit of the society. Also, parents, and especially father, take a very important role in the family’s existence. Therefore, the U-house might be interpreted as a reflection of the family living in the house. Semi circle symbolizes a lost part of the family and thick concrete walls, sharp and lighting of the tunnel-like shaped space regards to the mourner’s emotional state, relationship to society.
However, in almost 40 years time the traditional Japanese family has changed, influenced by other cultures and different way of living. Consequently, closer connection to the outside world, greater permeability of the space might be considered in terms to design a home for a modern family.
Naked House in Kawagoe, by Shigeru Ban
The house was designed (2000) by the “paper architect” for a family of three generations, which regards to a Japanese traditional family structure. The concept of the building relates to traditional Japanese house model, symbolic meanings (floor forms a part of the furniture, roof is gateway between heaven and earth..). However, the interpretation of traditional ideologies was expressed in a modern manner, creating a flexible pure white space without walls as a distraction.
However, our home usually reflects ourselves and our day to day life. Even perfect purity and minimalism is admirable it can be hardly define a family life. A short film “Perfect Human” by Jørgen Leth ( https://vimeo.com/11482893 ) helps to illustrate the surrealism of perfection and minimalism. Finally, maybe homes should be based on presentism?