This project was built in Monzen, a district of northern Kyoto, where the urban fabric still follows the ancient grid formation. The site, 8.5 x 22 m, faces onto a congested road on the southern edge while it's bordered by a quiet narrow driveway on the eastern side. In the past on this property stood a grand villa owned by a textile company: with the decline of kimono industry, the once huge lot has been subdivided into smaller portions.
The design reacts aiming at the quality of those historical spaces that still survive within the city: such a goal was accomplished by a design path that extracted the spatial essence from classic architecture and translated into the contemporary language. Here the architectural substance driven by variable values such as proportion, tactility, environmental control and dependence on energy-absorbing/consuming devices.
The house consists of a vertical volume and a horizontal one, the latter being two storeys high, the former three. The horizontal body plays an important role of mediation with the scale of the context, especially of that facing onto the narrow street on the easter edge. I divided the wall into two so that it appeared downscaled from a visitor’s point of view: opaque fence at the street level, translucent lattice work above.
The cherry wood planks of the flooring -20 mm thick- are stained with persimmon juice according to a Japanese traditional method: their warm color will gradually/eventually turn into deep red-black with a luster. Interior walls and ceilings are plastered white.
An air flow is fostered between the two gardens: fresh air is moved upwards from the wet garden at the ground level as the dry paved garden on the terrace is heated by the sunlight. Such a low-tech environmental control strategy is based upon the traditional architectural wisdom of machiya and furthermore refined after the successful experience of the “House in Matsubara” (Casabella 702).
Text by Satoshi Okada