Mind & Matter


Designing Apertures from the Inside Out

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Nowhere But Sajima. Photo by Chiaki Yasukawa, courtesy of Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects.


For most clients, good access to light and views is important. However, apertures are usually designed with only a general consideration for the interior experience, addressing basic criteria such as privacy, anticipated furniture locations, solar orientation, and other practicalities. Typically, architects place much more energy on the design of a building's exterior elevation, greatly influencing the size and placement of apertures from the outside-in.

For the design of a beach house in Japan, Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects inverted this approach. Given the importance of ocean views to the clients (and the relative lack of importance of the building façade layout), the apertures are designed to maximize the experience of being visually connected to the outdoors. Moreover, the openings vary in shape and size depending on the needs of each room, and are carefully designed to block out distracting elements such as neighboring buildings and beach traffic.

The result is an effect akin to Edward Hopper's Rooms by the Sea, as each room directly confronts an unobstructed and placeless image of sea and sky. The building exterior reads as a refreshingly varied assortment of openings, revealing the individual personalities of the spaces within.




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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.