Table Hat by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects | Yellowtrace.

Table Hat by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects | Yellowtrace.

Table Hat by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects | Yellowtrace.

Table Hat by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects | Yellowtrace.

 

In the run up to last year’s AIA awards, I read an article in which the terrific Sydney-via-South Africa architect Camilla Block described the suburban kitchen and family room extension as ‘the common cold of architecture’. I rather liked that – it’s the sort of engagement with architecture that most people (that is, most of the people who come to an architect to renovate their home) get to have. And each project demands a different solution. And we all know the steps taken towards curing the cold – tear something down and whack on a box, and try to make a bit of magic with a quarter acre block and a budget everyone wishes was bigger.

With this in mind you will appreciate why this small project by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects, with photography by Kai Nakamura, lends my design parts a tumescence Not Suitable For Work.

 

Table Hat by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects | Yellowtrace.

 

At first glance, I thought this was an unusual home extension of the sort described above. The street is suburban, the plans denote an ‘existing residence’. But there were an awful lot of little tables and chairs in there. Curious. This project is in fact a cafe built in the front yard of a dowdy two storey detached house. Curiouser and curiouser! If I were to have a cafe built in the front yard of my dowdy two storey detached house, I would hope it would be a lot like this.

Friends will know what immediately appeals to me about this little cluster of timber boxes. The simple palette, the twinkly lights reflected and reflected again in the plate glass windows, the framing of views and the layering of space. Sigh. And let’s not forget the dominance of a strict right angle. Hello!

 

Table Hat by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects | Yellowtrace.

Table Hat by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects | Yellowtrace.

 

From the outside it’s rather like a diminutive cousin of Sydney’s MCA extension (ducks for cover). The simple white slabs of masonry frame the door and window openings, and prop up the bare timber roof spandrels above. The floor plan wends its way around three little courtyards, arranged so that each corner of this compact space is suffused with the lovely leafy gravelliness one associates with The Japanese Garden. There is a consideration and judiciousness of design intent here which is easy to underestimate.

The interior spaces have a gridded, amoebic arrangement. It’s all passages, tiny nooks, intimate corners and secluded pockets, not a single eating hall. At ground level the concrete floor sloshes about through all this spatial complexity, unifying things ever so nicely. Overhead, the beautiful boxy timber roof defines rooms both indoor and out, carving and reducing the space to easily digestible morsels.

 

Table Hat by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects | Yellowtrace.

 

This is a very little project, but it plays tricks more often associated with buildings of a greater scale. A ‘pack ‘em in’ portal frame approach has been dismissed in favour of something smaller and more complex. One simple materials palette is used on the inside and the exteriors. Views outside are framed nicely. Views through are made beautiful.

I love it. My hat is off to the makers of this special little jewel.

Ende.

-Luke.

 


[Photos © Kai Nakamura, courtesy of Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects.]

 

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