A Sense of Publicness Embodied by an Old House
The project is a renovation of a house in Kyoto originally built around a hundred years ago, inherited and lived in from generation to generation. The site consisted of a rich garden that had been maintained over the years, with a little two-story Japanese style house situated in the center. The house is a private property, yet since it stood in this place for a long time it had essentially become a part of various people’s lives, thus acquiring somewhat of a curious air of publicness that was more open and welcoming than any house with an open design. The aim was to create a new lifestyle while preserving this environment that has been cherished by the city and its neighborhood.
A Structure that Generates New Connections
The residence is for a retired couple, yet what the clients desired was a house where people could gather. Since the lean-to extensions of the original house had been added and renovated to accommodate changes in lifestyle, the decision was made to newly construct five wooden lean-to spaces, leaving only the two-story main house in the center. Each lean-to is constructed in correspondence to the garden’s environment. A living room surrounded by osmanthus trees, a kitchen with a high ceiling where sunlight enters, a tea room positioned like an annex next to the Japanese maples, a bright staircase filled with light and study with a view of the starry sky, a bathroom permeated by soft rays of light –these five lean-to spaces, while serving as interfaces connecting the old main house with the garden, are also new structures that support the existing main house like flying butresses. As a result, the first floor of the existing main house is relieved from the need for seismic resistant walls. The lean-to extensions that per se would be considered but an additional element, is in itself a structural format that creates a new sense of openness throughout the entire building.
Fragments of Impressions Scatterd Throughout the Site
While the entire structure consists of the main house / new lean-to spaces / and the old garden, a variety of subtle schemes were set in place so as to dissolve this structure. The old staircase, old porch, and furniture are arranged in ways that traverse the boundaries between the existing and new constructed areas. In addition, existing materials such as old fittings, alcove posts, and lighting are used in the new constructed areas, and existing garden stones and trees are planted in the newly created garden. While treating the garden, architecture, and furniture as of equal importance, the fragments of the environment that unfold across the entire site centered on the spacious main house are re-edited, and further curated into multiple overlapping layers that can be observed throughout. For example, a relationship whereby, “an old azalea tree stands beyond the new garden seen through the wooden fittings of the old children's room that has been installed in the new lean-to space that one arrives at when entering through the existing gate.” In doing so, I believe that new points of contact will be generated in response to the impressions that various people had towards this house, thus giving rise to a new kind of “open house.”