Focusing on small houses has become one of the recent trends in housing design in Japan, as has been observed in
many house design works. Periodical coverage can tell that the number of such works has clearly been increasing since
the 90s, as compared with the 70s and 80s. The trend of small houses was also observed in the 50s. In those postwar
years of economic growth, it was driven by the conditions of the time, such as supply and housing shortages and urban
centralization. Today's social conditions are significantly different from those in the 50s, and naturally, the whole concept
of small houses has greatly changed from the past.
In this research, we evaluate the experiments of small houses, from the view of the idea of sustainability and open
building concept. Specifically, the study compares the small houses of the 50s and those after 1990 to examine their
differences or similarities in terms of size, structure and building systems. And thus clarify how industrialization and standardization
reflect on these experiments.
The former period, most were constructed on wood, with traditional construction method. The purpose of design
was rather how to adapt the industrialization to the traditional construction and how to realize the modern way of living
in the smallest space, than fulfillment of flexibility. Moreover, low cost was also included in the design purpose.
In latest examples, the "small" means "small building area" rather than "small space for life and minimal cost for construction".
The experimental projects were conducted by the intention exploring new possibilities and diversities of space
design, with various highly industrialized materials. The small houses after 1990 can be regarded as experimental
efforts to explore new approaches to skeletons within the context of urban tissue.
Keywords :Small House, Experimental House, Floor Area, Building Area, Japan.
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