Text description provided by the architects. This project consisted in the renovation of an old Japanese house in Sakura city, Chiba prefecture, Japan. The very low genkan (entrance porch) leads into a double-height living room flanked by wide engawa (side porches) protected by wide glazed openings. With celling heights that range from 1.8m to 5m, we wanted to create a variety of interior scales, and a place beyond the framework of the ‘housing’ architectural genre.
One of the main concerns was to ensure that, while every room is distinct, the spatial experience is that of a continuous whole. This is mainly pursued through the careful use of materials, textiles and lighting fixtures, whereby every room can share a common identity despite the differences in scale.
Since this is the place where the client grew up, we wanted to preserve some of her personal experience within the space and materials themselves. Therefore, we left the original souji (Japanese paper-covered sliding door) in place, and also kept several small elements of the house in their original condition, with only minimum repair. We like to think of these forgotten memories as ‘footprints’, waiting to be re-discovered in architecture and enrich the life of the people living there.
A renovation project like this is a rare opportunity, and a unique chance to treat memory and material equally, as design components.