Modern Japanese Styles of Houses


Japanese modern architecture is a blend of the ancient with the futuristic. Japan is addressing its severe over-crowding problem with innovative architecture designs for its residential and commercial areas. The three styles, pyramid, urban origami and Zen, incorporate old design styles into contemporary houses that are on the leading edge of creating functional, practical and deeply personal homes.


  • Pyramid is an ancient structural concept adapted into an ultra modern and eco-friendly style. Based on the Egyptian pyramids, its simple yet sturdy 3-sided design can withstand an earthquake measured up to 8.0 and wind gusts over 150 miles. Movable wall partitions create flexible spaces for many purposes; a living room quickly changes into two bedrooms with folding beds in the walls. Windows are positioned to let natural light inside for maximum illumination. The style is energy efficient since it has no second level and few walls to block the air, so it circulates freely cooling and heating the house. Natural airflow and the use of solar panels help reduce energy costs. The pyramid's inherent simplicity and strength makes it a functional and practical home design.

Urban Origami

  • The origami design takes advantage of shaping the house design with geometric angles to fit a small lot. It stresses clean lines with no exterior details like trim or canopies. The precise window placements make the most use of natural light. The design's strength derives from its folds that give the house its structural form. Origami's innovative angles add height for a second floor. The interior, with an open second level, echoes the streamline concept along with built in shelves and collapsible partitions to get the most use from the space. A carport is integrated beneath the bottom angle of the house. The emphasis placed on minimal land use makes urban origami an excellent choice for Japan's crowed cities.


  • Smile, breath and go slowly are an important part of Zen home design. The word Zen means meditation and calm. Its design is based on the balance between nature and man that stresses harmony with all elements. A contemporary Zen house consists of two main separate areas with a few small bedrooms on the first or second floor that unite into a living and livable space. The heavy use of glass for natural light and exposed wood beams reinforce this concept by bringing nature inside. A water court, indoors or outside, maintains tranquility while inspiring creativity. Interiors remain simple with white or off-white colored walls and ceilings, wood or unstained concrete floors, and recessed lighting since natural light is preferred. The Zen home is a highly personal style that goes beyond a place to live.

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  • "Modern Japanese House"; Naomi Pollock; 2005
  • "The New Asian Home"; Kendra Langeteigs; 2008
  • Photo Credit traditional japan image by koi88 from
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