A Study of Considered Restraint – Shibui House by Red Architecture
Tamahere, Waikato, NZ

Photography Larnie Nicolson & Jonny Davis
Words Bronwyn Marshall

A study on considered restraint, referencing Japanese principles of simplicity, Shibui House is imbued with a true sense of calm and purposefulness. Red Architecture has created a modestly understated home that celebrates timber as its muse.

The premise driving Shibui House is an underlying economy of means, and through a study of considered restraint and reductive analysis complexity is stripped away and a sense of balance is created in its place. Engulfed in the existing surrounding mature trees, the task was to create a home that embraced its calming aspect, that embodied a generosity of volume and that had a timeless aesthetic. This endurance was key to the selected timber and restricted palette throughout, allowing for the passage of time and ensuring home’s liveability for its family over years to come.

Engulfed in the existing surrounding mature trees, the task was to create a home that embraces its calming aspect, that embodied a generosity of volume and internal zones and that had a timeless aesthetic.
Meandering through these zones then becomes a joinery in itself, enhancing the engagement with place, the homeowner’s story and personality and experiences the volumes.

Located in Tamahere, Waikato, Shibui House was built by Ben Lee and the level of detail and refinement of junctions represents a true dedication to craft. The project’s name references the Japanese word ‘shibui’, which speaks to principles of simplicity in design and space making. Through considered transitions and thresholds, Shibui House creates a genuine meaning of place. Within its generous footprint, areas are broken down with connectivity as the unifying agent, purposefully making more intimate zones based on function. Meandering through these zones then becomes a journey in itself, enhancing the engagement with place, the homeowner’s story and personality, and the experiences of the architectural volumes.

The premise driving Shibui House is an underlying economy of means.

The use of timber captures elements of ‘shibui’ principles of tactility, texture and being overtly understated.

Minimal in nature, the composition of elements on site are all approached with a similar brush. The timber-shingled ancillary building (the children’s play and sleeping area) is detached from the main home and the connected pathways are all created out of a sense of restraint. The journey on approach, and as you move through the spaces, is intended to build a sense of anticipation where a series of hidden elements reveal themselves along the way, without being obvious. The use of timber captures elements of ‘shibui’ principles of understated tactility and texture. In this way, the expression of a natural material, in such a muted tone, creates a quietening oeuvre.

Shibui House was built by Ben Lee and the level of detail and refinement of junctions represents a true dedication to craft.

Red Architecture have created a highly reflected home, referencing the honed and meditative Japanese principles of Shibui in the like named home of Shibui House – a home that speaks bounds, without being in any way loud.

Mixing quiet areas of privacy with more open and active areas of collaboration, the combination of a sunken lounge area, internal zen garden and gallery entry create a uniquely understated home. There is no overwhelming element that takes over the experience of being within the space, in accordance with the Japanese principles of shibui. Red Architecture has created a highly contemplative home – a home that is not loud, yet which speaks volumes.

Published 26 November, 2019
Photography  Larnie Nicolson & Jonny Davis
Photographer:  Larnie Nicolson
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