Muji to work its mojo on houses

Japanese cult retailer to sell tiny houses in response to Japan's growing housing crisis

by Nick Myall 20 November 2015
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    The Japanese have long ruled the tiny house movement.  And no wonder.  Japan has some of the most expensive housing in the world, with the UK's Independent newspaper now reporting the average cost of a 40 square meter house there to be a staggering $422,440.  In response to  the country’s growing housing crisis, many of Japan’s top architects, like Shigeru Ban and Yashiro Yamashita, have turned their talents to designing low cost houses the size of garden sheds that can be deployed in many different circumstances.  The latest to get in on the small house craze is Japanese retailer, Muji, which unveiled last month at Tokyo Design Week, three micro houses it plans to bring to market. 

    Dubbed Muji Huts, the houses come in three different models, each designed by a different architect, each crafted of different materials.  Constantin Grcic’s Aluminum House is a narrow two-storey cabin clad in corrugated aluminum. The tallest of the three, it has sliding shoji screen like panels at both levels that allow it to be closed off from or opened to nature. Truly minimal, it has no bathroom, kitchen or furniture, but it does have a mezza-nine level accessible by a ladder that can be used for sleeping.  Built at the threshold of acceptable construction practices, Grcic’s hut is a flexible self-supporting structure that can be placed in most any terrain and environment.  

    In comparison to Grcic’s hut, Morrison’s unit is a one story structure. Built primarily of cork it packs a wallop of features into a tiny space. The bare bones cabin incorporates a fireplace, kitchen and bathroom and is described by Morrison as not far different from a house he has imagined building for himself in the country yet one that never gets realized due to its complexity.  Muji’s approach to designing a house as a product rather than a one-off structure brings this dream closer to reality.    

    Fukasawa, who is no stranger to Muji having designed many products for the retailer, has fashioned his hut in wood.  He describes it as being “Not quite a holiday house, yet not as simple as going camping.”  

    The Muji Huts are slated to go on sale in Japan in 2017. Pricing starts at $25,000.   

    The WAN Small Spaces Award 2015 is open to enter until 31st December. - To see more Click here 

    Sharon McHugh

    US Correspondent


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