Our Japanese friend and ambitious architect Keiji Ashizawa recently finished this renovation project on a two storeyed single family house in his hometown Tokyo. In order to enlarge the living space the architect added a third floor with a roof tarrace and created a backyard with privacy – a court which bathes the former dark home with soft light and allows its occupants to gaze at the sky.
“Remodeling in Japan is a relatively recent phenomenon. The average life-span of a building is less than 20 years, even less for central Tokyo. Building authorities are very reluctant to allow any alterations in structure (in part due to Japan’s earthquake standards) and are often only convinced after extensive negotiations and complete re-analysis of the structure”, Keiji Ashizawa explains.
“Achieving the clients’ goals within the constraints of the building required a number of key changes: A new tent structure was placed on the top of the building thereby creating a new third-storey with outside deck. Light was added in abundance by opening the south of the house and punching a courtyard out of the roof. To further capitalize on these changes, the order of the house was reversed so that the living, dining and kitchen were shifted to the upper floors thereby giving those areas access to even more light. A serene family area was created on the first floor by placing the bedrooms and family bathroom on the first floor and connecting the master bedroom to a Japanese style garden. The privacy of the bedrooms and garden was further ensured by erecting a 2-storey louver fence on the south border. A quiet office and guest room were installed in the basement.”
“In Tokyo, where space is at a premium, clients may need to accept a more vertical way of living, spreading over three or sometimes four stories. At the same time, the challenge to create great architecture requires developing new ways to completely utilize vertical spaces. When you also add the restraints of a renovation project to these existing hurdles, both sides need to be innovative. In this case, this challenge merely ignited the fires of everyone involved resulting in the generation of passionate synergistic energy for the project.”