takahito miyagishima architects presents the renovation of a 50-year-old dwelling in nanto city, japan, dubbed ‘house between johana.’ the area had once flourished as the gateway to zentokuji temple and still retains its historic fabric. the design team notes the site: ‘the road from the station to the private house was impressive. passing through a street lined with machiya houses, we climbed a slope, passed the gate of zentokuji temple with its beautiful wood carvings, and walked down a narrow alley. one sees a succession of quaint houses, old silk textile factories, and the surface of the river, and suddenly one’s gaze is drawn to the mountains in the distance. the idea was to create an architecture that is connected to this varied sequence.’ in revitalizing its ‘between house johana,’ the team enhanced the derelict structure’s earthquake resistance, while introducing a contemporary timber interior.
images by yoshihiko takeuchi
in order to retrofit the ‘between house johana’ to be earthquake resistant as possible, takahito miyagishima architects left the exterior largely untouched and focused toward the interior. the exterior tin walls had developed a patina which blends in with natural surroundings. this quality was retained and integrated into the renovation. the existing aluminum sashes, which had poor insulation properties, were replaced with bay windows of the same size. by using bay windows, the glazing area can be reduced and the interface with the existing exterior wall can be simplified. the triangular shape of the bay window faces the surrounding environment from various angles and expands the interior space.
during the build process, the team discovered new relationships with its ‘between house and johana’ and its surrounding environment. these include the showcase facing the approach, the headboard of the bed with a view of the old city, the bench in the dining room connected to the garden path, and the veranda with a distant view of the mountains. these functions seek to establish ‘ways of doing things that are unique to this place’ that bring joy and comfort. the bay window was covered with cedar clapboard. the new cedar clapboard bay window dances on the aged tin exterior wall, creating a variegated appearance of texture and time.
takahito miyagishima architects divides the plan into three zones — the entrance hall, the common dining room, and the private room. the only element changed is the thinning out of the partition walls. these three spaces are designed to be circular, and the repaired yukimi shoji screens and sliding doors are rearranged. the bay windows create a unique experience that is accentuated by the connection to the town environment. the experience of this kind of architecture makes the familiar environment seem different. the team notes the possibilities to create a relationship in which architecture and environment constantly stimulate and renew each other. in such a relationship, the environment can be manipulated more creatively to become a part of the architecture.
project title: between house and johana
architecture: takahito miyagishima architects
location: nanto city, toyama prefecture, japan
construction: sakaidani architecture
photography: yoshihiko takeuchi