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Alastair Townsend

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Why Japan is Crazy About Housing

Japan is famous for its radical residential architecture. But as Tokyo architect Alastair Townsend explains, its penchant for avant garde housing may be driven by the country’s bizarre real estate economics, as much as its designers’ creativity.

Here on ArchDaily, we see a steady stream of radical Japanese houses. These homes, mostly designed by young architects, often elicit readers’ bewilderment. It can seem that in Japan, anything is permissible: stairs and balconies without handrails, rooms flagrantly cast open to their surroundings, or homes with no windows at all.

These whimsical, ironic, or otherwise extreme living propositions arrest readers’ attention, baiting us to ask: WTF Japan? The photos travel the blogosphere and social networks under their own momentum, garnering global exposure and international validation for Japan’s outwardly shy, yet media-savvy architects. Afterall, in Japan – the country with the most registered architects per capita – standing out from the crowd is the key to getting ahead for young designers. But what motivates their clients, who opt for such eccentric expressions of lifestyle?

Library House / Shinichi Ogawa & Associates. Image Courtesy of Shinichi Ogawa & Associates House in Kohoku / Torafu. Image © Daici Ano House in Saijo / Suppose Design Office. Image Courtesy of Nacasa&Partners Inc. HouseT / Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects. Image © Hiroyasu Sakaguchi + 9