Designed by Suyama Peterson Deguchi for a couple interested in simplifying their lives and learning to live with less, The Junsei House was created with a holistic approach to designing architecture that is sustainable. The house’s spaces give one a feeling of completeness, eliminating the need for more things. Simple, efficient and quiet in design, the house is a reaction to today’s technology and offers a refuge in an ever changing, chaotic world.
Located in an area once rich in fishing and logging and still supported by commuter ferry, the site is lush with trees. Respectful to the existing landscape and touching the ground minimally, the house is appropriate and compliments its surroundings rather than competing with it. Wishing to honor the existing site, all of the trees were left in place and excess excavation was limited to protect tree roots leaving only 25 feet in width and 76 feet in length for the house. Surrounded by trees and water, nature now becomes the house’s art. Instead of the typical design solutions with unobstructed views to the water, the central tree becomes dominant, and accentuates views and vistas by blocking some while slowly unveiling others as one’s journey to the water’s destination is created.
Working within a minimal budget and a simple material palette with close attention paid to details, the client was able to create more with less, resulting in a purer design and lifestyle. Producing little visual noise, the house is composed of a simple vernacular shape in which all programmatic elements were distilled down to their fundamental requirement. The relatively open floor plan and flexibility of spaces lends itself to a variety of uses, causing the resident to reevaluate how they live. Spaces can be occupied in different ways depending on seasonal conditions or social gatherings.
On the exterior corrugated metal siding is used while throughout the interior natural wood and plywood define space. The site built window system continues the simple vernacular geometry and the use of flat grain wood visually makes the windows appear as if they were carved from the skin. The structural system allowed the interior volume to be completely empty of structure creating a pure skin that helps to accentuate the white box containing the service elements and a loft space above. With The Junsei House, designing for sustainability is not only about material choices or products, but rather shifting one’s attitude, and examining how essential design elements can alter the living habits of the occupants.
all images © Charlie Schuck