If acclaimed Japanese architect Shigeru Ban is most famous for his houses made of cardboard tubes – designed as disaster relief accommodation but which are so striking they are often exhibited as art installations – the results when he is working to a bigger budget are pure masterpieces. The magnificent Centre Pompidou in Metz, which was completed in 2012, attests to that but it is his latest project, the S Residence in Sengokubara, which showcases Ban’s talent for creating houses that are both simple and sophisticated. Constructed from timber (Ban has previously spoken of his preference for simple materials, even for a luxurious home), the single-storey house has a square plan with a teardrop-shaped courtyard at its centre, and is thereby designed as a sequence of rooms that flow into each other (a nod to traditional Japanese architecture – another Ban signature). The same simplicity found in Ban’s paper emergency housing is found throughout the villa: in the exposed timber columns and roof joists and in the sparse interior garden with its lush lawn and single tree at its center. But it is the brilliance of the radial floor plan, of the walls of glass that open to the interior garden and the lattice-like partitions between rooms that make the S Residence a lesson in quiet sophistication and one of our favourite Ban projects yet.