Tour of Muji’s 白い町 White Town

Muji generously invited us to don white gloves and tour their newly completed development in Chiba prefecture. Having previously written about the project, it was good to see it firsthand. Sadly, wet weather did not offer the best photo op.

Working for the developer Orix, Muji has built 22 homes of various layouts. Surprisingly, the project does not include Muji’s previous home designs. Here, these typical Japanese suburban homes are given the Muji touch by stripping them of extraneous elements and making everything (as Muji likes to say) “simple”. The development is made cohesive by a standard white exterior finish, square glazing, and inset balconies. Inside, the homes offer a similarly white, but otherwise unremarkable interiors.

The homes are constructed using a gluelam timber frame, similar to Muji’s other homes, with external polystyrene insulation.

In Muji’s view, the key innovation of the project is the shared gardens between properties, separated by a low railing and vegetation. These spaces are quite compact, leaving privacy in short supply. However, the density does make the community feel intimate. In some houses, generous sliding doors open onto modest porches that almost touch the street.

Another communal benefit is the a shared lodge (with dining, meeting, and kitchen space) and a small picnic area. The surrounding area is relatively undeveloped. Fields and a bamboo forest border the site, but the environs will be developed in the future (sadly, without Muji’s involvement).

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