House in Sakakida was built in the northern district in Kyoto, where the ancient grid formation still remains as the urban fabric. The site, 8.5 meter wide x 22 meter deep, faces a wide busy traffic road to the south, while a calm narrow carriageway to the east. There used to be a grand villa of a textile company, but the property was sliced out into small pieces with the decline of kimono industry. Moreover, in the process of modernization, building must be covered by incombustible materials under fire regulations, so that traditional wooden buildings are replaced by steel or concrete ones, which has caused to collapse the traditional townscape in Kyoto. In the broken context, I tried to embody a quality of space cultivated in the historic city by means of extracting the essence of space from classics into contemporary architecture in terms of proportion, dimness, tactility, and a mechanism of making breeze for summer comfort inside a house enclosure with least help of air conditioning machines.
The house is composed of both three story vertical volume and two story horizontal one. The lower volume is important for adjusting the building scale particularly along the narrower street on the east. In order to make the scale smaller to human eyes, I designed the wall divided into two; the opaque fence on the street level and the latticework upon the fence. On the facade to the broad street, I enhanced its austerity with three story height rigid wall with two story height latticework. The vertical volume contains private rooms - bedrooms, bathrooms, and tatami-room; while, the horizontal one is for the public entrance and garage on the ground floor; living, kitchen, and dining open to both terrace and balcony on the first floor.
When the terrace, the dry garden covered by flooring, is heated up by sunlight, and when the living quarter is opened, cool air in the wet garden on the ground is pulled up into it. It is air circulation in this house based upon the traditional wisdom of machiya after the successful practice in 'House in Matsubara' (Casabella 702). The structure is a timber construction. Exterior wall is clad by compressed cement panel, an incombustible material, painted in charcoal gray. The cherry flooring - 20mm thick - is stained by persimmon juice in a Japanese traditional way; eventually it turns the color into deep red-black with a luster. Interior wall and ceiling are plastered in white.
Text by Satoshi Okada