Big Ideas, Small Buildings: Some of Architecture’s Best, Tiny Projects

Suzuko Yamada, Pillar House, , Japan. Image © Iwan Baan/TASCHEN

This post was originally published in The Architectural Review as “Size Doesn’t Matter: Big Ideas for Small Buildings.

Taschen’s latest volume draws together the architectural underdogs that, despite their minute, whimsical forms, are setting bold new trends for design.

When economies falter and construction halts, what happens to architecture? Rather than indulgent, personal projects, the need for small and perfectly formed spaces is becoming an economic necessity, pushing designers to go further with less. In their new volume Small: Architecture Now!, Taschen have drawn together the teahouses, cabins, saunas and dollhouses that set the trends for the small, sensitive and sustainable, with designers ranging from Pritzker Laureate Shigeru Ban to emerging young practices.

Terunobu Fujimori’s Soft-Hard Zinc House Opens Near Tokyo

Soft-hard looking zinc house. Image © Maria Novozhilova

A new private house designed by an exceptional Japanese architect, Terunobu Fujimori, has opened. The new building is located in a small provincial town near to . Neighbored by typical one-family residences, the newcomer comes to the fore. Different, shiny and apparently soft metallic façade catches the visitor’s eye. 

Yet the scale of the building is much smaller than one might expect. Every height, width and depth are accurately measured and left from a certain point of view spatially stingy: no waste is admissible here.

Terunobu Fujimori Architect

The sophisticated designs by (1946) are fascinating: archaic, eccentric, poetic, and ecological, almost all of them are made of simple, traditional materials such as earth, stone, wood, coal, bark, and mortar. His architecture appeals to primordial instincts, promising warmth and protection. His structures serve as role models for a generation of young international architects who value a mode of building that is ecological, historically aware, and sustainable.