Text description provided by the architects. The premises are located in Soma City, Fukushima. Minamisoma is known for “Soma Nomaoi” wild horse chase festival, one of the biggest festivals Fukushima has to offer—or perhaps best recognized as the “temporary evacuation designated zone”. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, many moved out of the city and still keep themselves away from the city. There are great quantities of empty houses in the area. The owner and his wife who have separately asked us for a renovation also had no choice but to evacuate temporarily. After deregulation, they chose to go back to the city they had been living in for decades, and we were asked to renovate their cherished home.
This 36-year-old, one-storied house originally had 7 rooms, each 15 ㎡ wide, extensive kitchen, and two bathrooms, and was too big for a married couple in their 70s. While contraction of the house seemed to be the best idea considering its management after inheritance, we decided to retain the strong tiled roof which survived the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and make full use of it.
The owner has been taking over the area’s traditional events with dignity, taking the role of the captain in Soma Nomaoi wild horse chase festival for example, and he always had visitors coming and going. Sitting on the terrace, talking to visitors—this was their daily routine. The terrace is a perfect space for welcoming people; there is no stress or need for the visitors to take off their shoes and it allows them to come and go whenever they want.
There is hardly any snow in Minamisoma and thus, small talk sessions with tea and tobacco by the terrace were an all-season, everyday thing. We wanted to preserve this usual but precious sight along with the tiled roof, and create the heart of the city for those coming back where people can get to know and support each other. Determined to build such a house, we decided to minimize the living space while keeping the roof structure as it is and renovate most of the remaining area into a terrace.
At the time of the Soma Nomaoi wild horse chase festival, about 20 people take turns to gather around this house. We have built the main entrance for taking off and storing shoes but structured the house to allow visitors in from any side of the terrace so that they would not need to go through the entrance. We can imagine people of the area gathering around the terrace after the festival, making themselves at home, thanking each other and enjoying their time. We sincerely hope that such sight will last forevermore.