Nord – A Minimalist Japanese House Inspired by Religious Architecture

Set on a narrow site in Mitaka (a newly established city on the outskirts of Tokyo), this three-storey family home has been created by local design studio Apollo Architects. Dubbed Nord, the house features a minimalist interior and an interesting asymmetrical roof.


Nord - Small Japanese House - Apollo Architects - Tokyo - Exterior and Loft - Humble Homes

Nord is home to a family of four, who asked the architects to base their design on the work of the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, drawing on his work related to small churches in particular. The result is an interior dominated by wooden surfaces, and vaulted ceilings.


Nord - Small Japanese House - Apollo Architects - Tokyo - Loft - Humble Homes

From the architects: “The living spaces are filled with the warmth of wood, which is somehow similar to idyllic scenery in Japan”. The first floor is dedicated to the private space of the home, namely the bedrooms, washroom and bathroom. There’s also a room for storage and a walk-in closet.


Nord - Small Japanese House - Apollo Architects - Tokyo - Staircase - Humble Homes

The next floor up contains the homes main living areas. There’s a kitchen placed along the end gable wall that flows into the dining area, with the living room following on from that. One of the walls features storage cabinets along its length, providing nooks for the TV and computer.

Nord - Small Japanese House - Apollo Architects - Tokyo - Kitchen and Living Area - Humble Homes

Beyond the living room you’ll find a small private balcony that looks out to the street and beyond. Nord features a minimalist staircase with floating treads, and a single folded metal bar acting as a handrail. It provides access to all the floors including the rather dramatic loft with its exposed rafters.

Nord - Small Japanese House - Apollo Architects - Tokyo - Floor Plan - Humble Homes

The loft is intended to be used by the children. The architects liken it to a treehouse. No wall were introduced in the loft so as to create a sensation of floating. They’ve also attempted to manipulate light to create different atmospheres: “At night, cove lighting illuminates the rafters and creates a dramatic expression unlike that of daytime.”

For more Japanese houses check out this small home by Tofu Architects. Or, this tiny house in Nada, Japan, that allows light to filter down through its several floor levels. See all Japanese Houses.

Via Dezeen
Photos: Masao Nishikawa

Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.

1 Comment
  1. gorgeous. interesting rafters. I love the clean minimalist appearance of the open tread stairs with the pipe handrail, and I would be afraid to use them. a personal quirk.