Junsei was Suyama’s third attempt at designing the perfect shelter. The first house on the land, a primary residence he shares with his wife and two cats, is a “funky,” 2,000-sq-ft structure called Fauntleroy. The second, a pair of cabins, Suyama describes as minimal and “very refined.” Like a proverbial Goldilocks, he deems Junsei just right: “It allowed all these things that I wasn’t able to fit into the first two houses. It might be the evolution of where we had to be.”
The architect retreats to the home’s tree-shrouded living room to thumb through magazines, dissect a design idea, or get lost in a classical melody. The space wasn’t designed with acoustics in mind, but Suyama says sound is so flawlessly balanced that it’s an architectural element. “Music sets the mood and becomes the heart of whatever I’m doing. It offers a fallback so everything’s not so empty.”
Sound system aside, the house is free from technology. The absence of a humming television or buzzing smartphone is palpable. “You don’t know exactly what it is, but you feel as if you’ve been gripped by nature,” the architect explains.
If Suyama seeks solitude at Junsei, he encourages an alternate experience among visitors. “The most important thing is that when they walk in they immediately feel comfortable,” says Suyama. “That really helps extend a dialogue between people.” He opens the house to friends and family for overnight stays featuring dinner and conversation. Local politicians are encouraged to host donors and constituents in the house, and to speak openly to the issues that affect them. The architect has fashioned Junsei as a cocoon: a safe environment for genuine interaction with nature, family and the community.
It’s unlikely the ships on the sound are aware of its existence. There are no wooden stairways leading from the beach, no porch overlooking the shore. “There’s a sense of calm and security that you get when you close yourself up a little. We haven’t genetically changed since walking upright, so deep down we like being protected as if we’re in a cave,” Suyama contemplates. “We’ve always had the prospect of refuge in our philosophic library.”