One Forrest

Flat Site in Johannesburg

“First, there is the bare beauty of the logs themselves with their long lines and firm curves. Then there is the open charm felt of the structural features which are not hidden under plaster and ornament, but are clearly revealed, a charm felt in Japanese architecture.” – Gustav Stickley

Japanese houses strive to blur the boundaries between the natural and the man-made worlds.

Garden elements engulf buildings through water, natural stone or vegetation. These elements are inserted for their ability to measure time, movement and season.

The garden is designed in concert with the room interiors.

A Japanese home can be described as being composed in 3 parts namely, exterior, intermediate and interior. The intermediate zone is the important buffer between exterior and interior and helps draw nature into the home whilst still providing protection and security.

The formal entranceway is decorated to symbolise its role as a buffer between interior and exterior, formal and informal, clean and unclean.

Japanese culture is seen to have originated in the chaotic world of the forest, this might offer an explanation of the unbalanced harmony in the tension created by dynamic forces locked in unresolved conflict.



It is the joining of two symbols — ka being house and tei being garden — that defines home in Japanese. One of the words commonly used for home, katei, includes the character for garden (tei) in combination with the character for house (ka).

Wabi Sabi

The Japanese perception of beauty can also be seen in the concept of wabi (simple quietude) and sabi (elegant simplicity).

The opposite of gorgeous splendour, these suggest a modest beauty striving for something closer to nature than nature itself. Wabi today detects beauty in nonmaterialistic, spiritual freedom and harmony in nature.

Wabi-sabi represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, specifically impermanence, the other two being suffering and emptiness or absence of self-nature.

Wabi Sabi