I have certainly featured quite a few unusual japanese houses in the What The …… section, in the time I have been writing this blog.
This has made me start to wonder why Japan seems to have so many of these unusual houses?
After a bit of research I found there are several reasons, which are somewhat interrelated:
For a long time land has been very expensive compared with the cost of building.
This has encouraged people to look for ways of building on small and odd shaped blocks of land which require innovative approaches.
Historically houses in Japan frequently suffered earthquake damage which meant that rebuilding is frequently required.
People thus tend to think of the house as a rapidly depreciating asset that will have no value in 20 -30 years
The Cult of ‘New’
Our own culture of liking to have the latest cars or consumer goods in Japan has extended to houses.
Many Japanese want a new house and because of the high land values are quite prepared to pull down a house that may be less than 30 years old to achieve that.
Having a distinctive design emphasizes the newness of the house.
There is little in the way of planning controls, which also makes it hard for neighbours to object to a ‘Way Out’ design.
As there is no culture of taking civil action for poor design Architects and Designers can to try more unusual designs without commercial risk.
Lack of Mobility
Historically in Japan there is the ‘Salary Man’ culture of working for one company for life.
This together with the high land prices and rapid depreciation means many Japanese really do have one ‘Forever Home’ and they don’t build with an eye on resale value.
Would you look to see more unusual designs in Australia?