Ryokan living and the state of zen

Goy Architects designs a modern-day ryokan for a couple who appreciates Japanese culture and design sensibilities.

  • Ryokan living and the state of zen

Home Type: 5-room BTO flat

Floor Area: 1,184sqft

Text by Vanitha Pavapathi

Lookbox Design Awards 2019 “Home of the Year”

With the knowledge that the owners of this five-room BTO flat have a passion for Japanese culture and simple design aesthetics, Goy Zhenru and her design partner Kulap Loetmanlikaphorn of Goy Architects set out to create an intimate and calm abode that soothes, and that serves as an escape from the daily hustle.

ryokan living Goy Architects

The intent was to curate beautiful vistas along the spatial journey by way of obscuring or framing of spaces within the flat. This begins at the entrance itself with a genkan-like space where shoes and accessories are removed before approaching the main living area. “The controlled view of the entryway moderates the users’ visual expectation,” says Zhenru, “creating a sense of anticipation before being presented into the integrated dining and living room.”

ryokan living Goy Architects

Framed using a raised timber platform with a lowered timber ceiling portal for a cosy ambience, the traditional ryokan influences are amplified in the living room. But what really took this living space from beautiful to exceptional was the introduction of the shoji-inspired windows that allow the owners to control their internal environment.

Goy Architects

Inserted as a design element that softens the natural light into the living room, the sliding timber windows with frosted glass also addressed the need to obscure adjacent buildings while providing privacy. Clearly, Goy Architects has the innate ability to transform an interior into one that transports the occupants into a calm and hypnotic realm – one that belies the urban environs even.

ryokan living Goy Architects

It is evident that the features of this flat are as meticulous in artful detailing as they are catering to the needs of a modern lifestyle. Most of the furniture have been custom made in collaboration with Javanese craftspeople to fit the exact dimension of the space.

bedroom Goy Architects

Zhenru reveals that one of her favourite designs is in the master bedroom. It has a simple, continuous geometry and design gesture; the desk, bedside table, bed frame and lamps are integrated into one simple unit.

Elsewhere, storage displays seamlessly integrate into the built-ins for the owners’ Japanese collectable toys to reside. One of the bedrooms has also been converted into a hobby room for the couple who have a penchant for building miniature toy models.

ryokan living Goy Architects

In order to keep the entire flat consistent and serene, “we made a conscientious effort to limit the material palette to natural elements like stone and timber,” says Zhenru. The tactile quality of the space was introduced via accented furniture pieces like rattan lamp and hemp rug to increase the sensory experience for the owners, while some pieces were left unfinished to imbue a natural aura.

Every single detail and component of this flat was tailored to perfection. Due to the intricacies of the carpentry works, the construction period was longer than planned. “Thankfully, the clients were very supportive and accommodating in the timeline as they are equally meticulous about detailing as we are,” Zhenru shares. The result is a home that demonstrates a balance between great design and functionality, with well-considered use of space and materials.

Goy Architects

Photography by Fabian Ong

This article first appeared in our Lookbox Design Awards special issue (Lookbox Living #63)

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