Muji tries to answer these questions by launching a series of tiny prefab houses during the Tokyo design week 2015. These houses are designed by high profile industrial designers; Konstantin Grcic from Germany, Jasper Morrison from England, and Naoto Fukasawa from Japan. They all introduce both contemporary home styles (and especially the current Japanese trend for kyosho jutaku – micro homes) along with traditional Japanese elements. Each of them, though, uses a particular dominant material.
Konstantin Grcic’s aluminum module can be characterized as a redefinition of the archetype of the hut. For him “the hut is just a space — it doesn’t have to be a fully functioning place for living… it is just a space for doing something.” In other words, it is an escape space from Japanese urban environment. It is totally compliable with Japanese building regulations as it is small enough in order to be built without the need to issue any building permit from the local authorities.
Regarding its overall volume, it is an aluminum rectangular box sizing 3m x 3.3m x 4.5m with a lightweight fabrication system and construction as this of delivery trucks, sharing in common various joinery methods, as well as the detailing of the corner construction. Due to its relative small size, it is easily carried and placed in almost any terrain.
Its walls are both structural and insulating by containing an insulating foam core clad with corrugated aluminum (exterior) and plywood (interior) panels. Its main façade consists of a wooden frame filled in its upper part with glass and in its lower part with paper (filtering the sunlight). These different levels of transparency can be associated with different levels of privacy; the ground floor is adjacent to the street level and needs to be somehow private whereas, the upper part of the hut needs to be naturally lit and allow visibility to the exterior. On both upper and lower part of its façade, there are shoji-style sliding doors, allowing the airflow. When totally closed, it is sealed with two metal panels. When opened, these panels serve as an extension of the used space (bottom panel) or shading (upper panel).
Its interior is divided into two levels with a use of a mezzanine suitable for a sleeping area. It can be accessed with a wooden ladder. It offers a free space, allowing the user to personalize it to any extent.
What is so interesting about this proposal is the fact that it is a very clever approach that aims to solve the problem of limited house ownership in Japan. It does so also by offering a very small and “serene habitat” that can be used in many ways, allowing its user to escape from the chaotic Japanese urban landscape. It can be used from a holiday retreat to an atelier or a personalized space to relax when it is needed. Due to its small size, it can be placed anywhere, even in a parking spot. It also redefines the aesthetics of prefabricated dwellings, making these products more attractive. Since these houses are going to be officially launched as products, we hope that “Hut 2.0” will succeed in the market.