Text description provided by the architects. Our client is a family with a couple in their fifties, two children and their mother. They formerly lived in the Kiso region in a one hundred year old farm house built with wood, paper, and mortar in the Meiji period. Kiso is known for its natural beauty, surrounded by mountains, forests and water. The client loved the old house and the area, but an accident forced them to move, so they purchased an existing house with a lovely old garden in an adjacent suburb. Unfortunately, the purchased home was not adequately earthquake-proofed so it required demolition and then new construction on the site.
After this dilemma, our hope was to comfort the displaced family with a new home that had some of the traditional Japanese style that they loved. The wood textures and beam construction were a tribute to the old house in Kiso. Japanese Cypress (Hinoki) timbers were taken from a mountain forest owned by the family, where they had planted trees for their son’s birth.
The Cocoon house is built on a property that is narrow and deep, with an old garden in the back. On the north side facing the road we placed storage and space to take in light and wind. Japanese-style vertical slat partitions were used for privacy throughout the plan. A multipurpose earth floor provides an entrance from the north and extends to the south garden. This indoor/outdoor corridor is lined with storage, and becomes the central public space for guests. There are two dominant visual themes throughout the plan: iconic framed square spaces, and checker patterns that recall the thread of a cocoon.
The traditional garden was redesigned with stepping stones leading to the earth floor of the interior. While most of the neighboring houses are of a more conventional industrial style, our design aims to integrate the old and new into a modernized Japanese architectural language.