Text description provided by the architects. For generations, the family of the client has maintained a farm household by cultivating their fields in this site in the central area of Saitama prefecture. Houses in this farming area used to share an orderly pattern, commonly with a water path, a farmhouse, sheds, and fields in a row from north to south, but in recent times newly built houses and car garages have disordered the overall pattern into the sprawling of suburban landscapes in the countryside.
These new residences are rarely integrated into the surrounding nature and hardly seen as rich dwellings, but if seen quantitatively, the situation can also be interpreted as a sort of garden city with buildings in low density among the fields. Through the renovation of a residence in this area, we attempted to open the site toward the surrounding farms and thereby create a dwelling that is rooted in the continuity of urban and historical developments. This means nothing other than activating a place by cultivating the time and space of its own.
Through this renovation, we redefined the main axis of the place by demolishing an old house in the center to extend the farm road toward the parent's house. Along this new axis are a garden on the east side and a new residence on the west side, and the spatial arrangement allows the garden surrounded by the buildings to seamlessly connect to the farmlands outside. Then we covered the path in front of the new residence so as to serve as a loggia, and the 1.8-meter deep space mediates the house and the garden together. The loggia is furnished with a block floor, a protruding bench, a wood-finished wall, as well as electrical outlets and a water tap so that the exterior zone can be used just as an interior room. It serves simultaneously as an approach to connect the fields and the parent's house, a large room that helps activities both in the garden and the fields, and deep eaves to buffer the house from the morning sun, rain, and wind.
To best balance a large garden and plenty of interior spaces facing the garden, we decided to make the volume into a 1.5 story building. The floor plan follows a grid pattern just like the typical farmhouse, while floor levels are made in five different heights in a spiral ascending from the ground to the terrace on top. With all the fields, the garden, and the floors connected seamlessly, the spiral sequence smoothly continues from the entrance on the ground level to the ascending floors to the terrace, coming full circle back again to the garden and the fields from above. The windows are made on all sides and in different heights while avoiding adjacent buildings, through which the interior space is contextualized in the suburban countryside landscape, thereby engendering an authentic sense of dwelling.
Under the external layer supported independently by a frame structure, the entire house is designed as one large shed, which in turn can be articulated into individual rooms flexibly by adding sliding doors or transparent/translucent partitions. Movable track lighting and furniture made of lauan plywood allow easy adjustment on a DIY basis. With the belief that a house is cultivatable just as farmland is, we renovated this house to let the client cultivate their own dwelling freely by themselves. Thus we named it Cultivatable House.