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All-Wood Health Clinic Makes the Case for Minimalist Beauty

Stripped down to the essentials

We've seen how humble plywood partitions can increase storage space in a cramped city apartment. But could stripped down, plain wood carry an entire building?

The answer is yes, as seen in the example of this compact roadside clinic in Toyota, Japan called "Grow." The two-story structure, which features a treatment center on the ground floor and a multi-purpose recreational space on the second, was designed on a tight budget with growth and adaptability in mind. To accomplish this, architect Ihara Masaki of IHRMK employed plain wood to make the space feel approachable and welcoming to DIY changes by those who use it.

Aesthetically, the clinic appears unfinished, standing bare with only its wooden frame, exposed both on the interior and exterior. This was a deliberate decision by the architect, who wanted to do away with the concept of "hierarchy" within a building. That meant putting every aspect of the clinic—the building as a whole, its structure, the finishes, and furniture—on the same plane.

For example, horizontal boards that support the columns double as shelves, and a step on the staircase also acts as a bench. The plain facade is also meant to respond to the city's changes over time. Indeed, it's the purity of materials and lines that inspire optimism in the clinic and makes it a bright spot in the city.