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A Sukiya-Inspired Modern House - What We Built

casasukiya
5 years ago

Site Plan

Floor Plan

General

Although inspired by the Japanese Sukiya style, our house, actually, is a product of several architectural interests: 1) sustainable, energy-efficient design; 2) the work of architectural theorist, Christopher Alexander (including A Pattern Language and related sources); 3) the modern architecture of Schindler, Aalto, Wright, Alden Dow and others; and, of course, 4) traditional Japanese architecture.

The house was designed in a familiar contemporary Pueblo style for the dry, temperate climate of northern New Mexico. We built an efficient, modern, Western house; but we also tried to capture the essence of traditional Sukiya architecture. We borrowed elements from the Sukiya style and modified them to suit our own needs, which we feel is in the spirit of an architecture that encourages innovation. However, ours are subtle features and, I'd guess, not always evident to the casual observer walking his dog.

As for family, there are just the two of us. I'm old, not working and long retired; my wife's younger(er), still working and not yet tired - which confirms, by the way, why it's best not to marry young, but rather somebody young!

Anyway, our semi-rural property is a roughly rectangular 1.3 acres with the back half in a 100 year flood plain that cannot be altered or built upon (see Site Plan sketch). Sloping slightly down to the SE, the site is sparsely populated with piñon and juniper trees which preclude development along much of the NE and SW perimeters. At an elevation of 6585 feet, we have a 4 season climate with 6009 HDD, wide diurnal swings in temperature, excellent solar access and tons of sun year-round - all ideal for passive heating and cooling.

Below are seven Sukiya Features that influenced our design:

1. Transitional Entry Sequence with Gradual Reveal of House, Garden and View

2. Intermediate Space (engawa)

3. Integration of House and Garden

4. South Orientation

5. Intimate Human Scale

6. Spare, Understated Spaces with warm, natural materials; simple clean lines; muted, subtle colors

7. Ample, Practical Storage and Built-ins


Quirks, Quibbles and Bits?

Well, yes, there are things about our house that probably raise eyebrows.

For one, the garage is detached, and many, I suppose, might find the car-to-kitchen route a bit long and circuitous; but, hey, the weather's good, the journey's pleasant, and my wife's still young! Plus, it sure beats negotiating the usual mean passageway strewn with cat litter and last week's blue light special, while the grand entry elsewhere sits idle gathering dust and kudos from the UPS guy.

Also, some may think the lack of a half bath inconvenient, but we've found that the Master Bath, interposed between private and public areas, accommodates this need just fine - and with a garden view - for both guests and daily use. Besides, there's always the airport for the stall experience.

And the range on the island? I suppose that'll get a rise among the Kitchen cognoscenti followed no doubt by a collective sigh and some serious mumbling about a vast culinary wilderness out there. Well, folks, just so you know, this poor sap and his wench DO happen to have a sharp knife in the drawer!

There are other quirks, too, for plan junkies bent on analyzing these types of things.

Finally, several folks over the years have asked what gives me real peace in our house. Many things come to mind, but, you know, my discovery, serendipitous as it was, of single-ply T.P. as the magical fix for a dyspeptic septic has got to be up there. So there you have it. Got to be gentle with the bowels of the beast!

Cheers!




Comments (36)

  • cpartist
    5 years ago

    I hope you have more pictures to show.

    casasukiya thanked cpartist
  • chicagoans
    5 years ago

    I'd love to see more pictures too! Your plan is very intriguing and I know you put a great deal of thought into it. Congrats!

    casasukiya thanked chicagoans
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  • just_janni
    5 years ago

    In a moderate climate - I love the different spaces and the views and gardens. The layout of the master bath is intriguing and you have certainly eschewed the spa bath trend for a more compact, efficient model. Would love to see more pics of all the different views.

    casasukiya thanked just_janni
  • bpath
    5 years ago

    Wonderful. And the 7 principles, excellent.

    casasukiya thanked bpath
  • Suru
    5 years ago

    Very nice! Thank you for sharing.

    casasukiya thanked Suru
  • mojomom
    5 years ago

    Very nice.

    casasukiya thanked mojomom
  • whaas_5a
    5 years ago

    Not sure if I'm more impressed with the garden or your ability to articulate with uncanny wit.

    casasukiya thanked whaas_5a
  • Catherine Z8-ish PNW
    5 years ago

    Ditto what cpartist said. More please, especially sequential shots moving forward from arrival.

    casasukiya thanked Catherine Z8-ish PNW
  • bpath
    5 years ago

    Just checking...there is no door to the master suite or bedroom, right? Funny how we can so expect things, but here it would be unnecessary!

    casasukiya thanked bpath
  • casasukiya
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Here is the entry sequence, which, more or less, corresponds to #s 1-7 on the plan.


    to be continued


  • casasukiya
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Entry Sequence continued....

    This picture is our E mountain view in the Living area.

  • benjesbride_misses_sophie
    5 years ago

    Wow! Thank you for sharing your beautiful home!

    casasukiya thanked benjesbride_misses_sophie
  • cpartist
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    You've created your own piece of heaven with your house and what you've proven is it's so important to design a house that works for how you live/want to live. Beautiful and well done!

    I am especially enamored with your garden area and the way the light filters into the house.

    casasukiya thanked cpartist
  • casasukiya
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    A few more interior photos...

    Entry door looking N

    Master Bath, outer compartment

    Guest Space

    Ofuro (Japanese deep soaking tub)

  • casasukiya
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    And, finally, a few more exterior photos (which was a real ordeal for a pair of Luddites).

    The house sits below the road and opposite a T intersection, hence the screen walls (below) and the forward position of the garage.

    Garage to the left.

    W engawa (covered veranda).
    Shade Sail.

    Calculated overhang (louvers) above S sliders.

    Main Entry Door on left.

    Courtyard view of wood grill in screen wall (opposite main entry).

    Courtyard looking N.

    E engawa (covered veranda) with grill in screen wall opposite main entry door.

    That's it, folks!


  • benjesbride_misses_sophie
    5 years ago

    Do you mind sharing how long this project took from finding the property to move-in? If we build new it will be 10-15 years, but I'd like a better sense of the time involved in such a thoughtfully designed and built home.

    casasukiya thanked benjesbride_misses_sophie
  • 66and76
    5 years ago

    Yes, you have a beautiful house. Just lovely.

    However, the comments about your wife come across as condescending and chauvinistic.

    "I'm old, not working and long retired; my wife's younger(er), still
    working and not yet tired - which confirms, by the way, why it's best
    not to marry young, but rather somebody young!" (Hey, after she gets home from working all day, she can take care of ME.)

    "For one, the garage is detached, and many, I suppose, might find the
    car-to-kitchen route a bit long and circuitous; but, hey, the weather's
    good, the journey's pleasant, and my wife's still young!" (Let her carry all the groceries and heavy packages. What is the plan when SHE gets older?)

    "Well, folks, just so you know, this poor sap and his wench DO happen to have a sharp knife in the drawer!" ("Wench"? You must be kidding.)

    You may have been trying to be funny with your comments. If so, I apologize for the criticism. My husband is considerably older than me, and he would never be so flippant regarding our age difference.

    Once again, you have a terrific house.

    casasukiya thanked 66and76
  • bpath
    5 years ago

    Very nice, how one is led into the house, and it is revealed as you go. Very like the desert, where you think you see it all, but when you look closer or take a turn, it's very different. There are similarities, too, with southwest US architecture, with courtyards and openings in walls, with grills, and natural materials, feeding off the colors. Very thoughtfully designed, and I'm sure the two of you enjoy it, and each other's company as well. It takes true collaboration to design thoughtfully.

    casasukiya thanked bpath
  • casasukiya
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Easy there, redpaula! A life well-lived is a matter of balance with equal parts serious and not. Of course, I was kidding, but to explain it sort of misses the point, don't you think? Besides, why else do you think she agreed to carry the groceries!

  • cpartist
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Love the house and your sense of humor. :)

    Also if I lived in your climate, I would definitely detach my garage. I could have done it in FL but when I think of the rain every afternoon from May-Sept, I am glad we attached the garage, although I may regret it walking past the previous night's blue plate special. Thankfully I have no cats, just one hairless dog.

    casasukiya thanked cpartist
  • DLM2000-GW
    5 years ago

    Beautiful home and I love that it's such a personal co-mingling of cultures like the the portals/engawas, clean lined vigas and kiva - love kivas and yours is so spare and lovely. I'll be showing my husband - the younger stud I married because he's good at building stuff :-) - your perimeter drainage (I assume) rocks and the way you have them contained.

    casasukiya thanked DLM2000-GW
  • casasukiya
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    benjesbride,

    Our project, from beginning to end, took about 2 1/2 years - a few months to find property, 1+ years to design, and 1+ years to build. Landscaping (now 6 years old) took another 6 months or so.

    FWIW, here are a few thoughts about the process sent to a friend recently that might be useful:

    1. First, please yourself; it’s far more satisfying than accolades from others. Besides, a “bespoke house” fits as it should, both you and the site, and that’s always admired!
    2. Balance whimsy and practicality in your design; each tempers the other.
    3. Long before breaking ground, prepare/have prepared drawings or sketches of ALL details, especially if unusual or unfamiliar. Even so, there will be unanticipated decisions to make during construction.
    4. Carefully assemble a knowledgeable team you trust and LIKE. (In other words, tippin’ a few with the people involved should be a pleasure, not a chore.) Take plenty of time, ask lots of questions, and don’t settle! We found many “custom builders”, despite what they say, are really little more than production builders of larger, fancier houses. If you want something different, choose instead a builder that’s enthusiastic and expresses a genuine interest in YOUR project. In fact, it’s often useful to include the builder during the design phase. He might even save you money with a few suggestions, and communication’s bound to be better. We didn’t include our builder, but I now see the advantage.
    5. During the process, if you’re certain about something (design feature, technique, material, etc.), don’t be dissuaded just because it’s different. Idiosyncrasy, at times, is important as a reflection of you. Idiocy, of course, is not; so also be prepared to jettison an idea others believe clearly unsound. It is a fine line sometimes, so do your due diligence and consult anyone and everyone, and eventually the answer will come.
    6. If well prepared, this experience, though not always easy or predictable, can be wonderful and very worthwhile. Generally, it was for us and we’re glad we did it. Of course, there were times I wasn’t sure if the house was coming out of the ground or I was going in it! Which is why, I suppose, a fading memory ain’t all bad!
  • benjesbride_misses_sophie
    5 years ago

    Thank you! I sincerely appreciate your thoughts and your time.

    casasukiya thanked benjesbride_misses_sophie
  • lexma90
    5 years ago

    Your home is truly beautiful, and I can tell it's your wife's and your personal vision of what works for you. Several years ago, my spouse and I built our very personal home in the snowy mountains of Colorado, and while it does not have the Japanese sensibility or moderate climate of your home, we also focused our home design around what was important to us, and as a result, it has elements that others wouldn't find ideal. But they work for us!

    casasukiya thanked lexma90
  • casasukiya
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    vwtyler,

    It's wonderful that you were able to build a home that reflects your personalities and makes you happy. Not many people have this opportunity. Fortunately, we were able to do the same. However, our climate at 6600 feet elevation might not be quite as moderate as some think!!

    p.s. Do you have any photos of your place?

  • cpartist
    5 years ago

    Ugh, what is that awful white stuff ? (says the one who makes sure to be safely ensconced in FL each winter.)

    casasukiya thanked cpartist
  • 66and76
    5 years ago

    benjesbride, The denotation as well as the connotation of the word, "wench":

    1

    wench

    noun
    \ˈwench\

    Simple Definition of wench

    • : a young woman; especially : a young woman who is a servant

    Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

    Full Definition of wench

    1 a : a young woman : girl b : a female servant 2 : a lewd woman : prostitute

    casasukiya, As I stated in my original comment,
    "You may have been trying to be funny with your comments. If so, I apologize for the criticism." In the future, I will keep my interpretations to myself.

    Peace.

    casasukiya thanked 66and76
  • patriceny
    5 years ago

    Your home is beautiful and your sense of humor delightful. Thank you for both! :)

    casasukiya thanked patriceny
  • chicagoans
    5 years ago

    Thank you for posting the additional pictures of your wonderful home! And thank you for the pointers, too. I hope others undergoing a build process will take those to heart.

    I *think* I remember some of your early drawings and posts, under a different name on GW, yes? I love how your design evolved and came to life. Congrats!

    casasukiya thanked chicagoans
  • casasukiya
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    ms.redpaula,

    Wow, and I always thought wench only meant a buxom, lively girl with just a tad of lewdness; English really is complex, isn't it? Maybe we should put that word to rest. She probably deserves it anyway what with all her cooking and cleaning. By the way, apology accepted for misinterpreting the obvious, though I've heard obtuseness can be a reversible condition corrected by daily doses of laughter, thoughtfulness, and, yes, even a dollop of flippancy. You might give it a try; they say that first head slap of enlightenment's a real eye-opener.

  • lazy_gardens
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    It's interesting how similar the Japanese Sukiya concept and the classic NM and Mexican walled compound with zaguan entrance and a central patio really are.

    Love the blend.


    ADDING: However, considering the snowfall you get, I would have made a nice sheltered path from garage to house a priority, on a single level.

    casasukiya thanked lazy_gardens
  • lexma90
    5 years ago

    I need to take the time to upload pictures of our house; you're inspiring me to do that. And it will be a good example of working with the terrain, the views, the geography - there are no flat lots where we built (ele. about 9,600 ft).

    casasukiya thanked lexma90
  • casasukiya
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    vwtyler

    Looking forward to it!! Hope you are better at uploading photos than we are; our experience was accompanied by a lot of yelling!

    cpartist and lazy_gardens,

    That photo with the "white stuff" is not at all representative; we just use it to keep potential visitors at bay! Typically, we get 30-40 inches a year, but most of it falls at night and melts off early in the morning due to the intense sun, which makes shoveling usually unnecessary.

    chicagoans,

    Certainly appreciate your comments, but my husband says he's never posted drawings before on either GW or houzz.

    By the way, to all others who've answered,

    We greatly appreciate your comments as well!

    Thanks,

    "Wenchie"


  • ILoveRed
    5 years ago

    "though I've heard obtuseness can be a reversible condition corrected by daily doses of laughter, thoughtfulness, and, yes, even a dollop of flippancy."

    i don't find this comment particularly funny.

    i think I will refrain from joining this gentleman's fan club.

  • casasukiya
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    ILoveRed,

    You're right; it's not funny. It's sarcasm, though reasonably mild in response to the two rather ridiculous comments from the poster.

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