Originally built in 1971, the renovation of this family home for a couple and their child was completed in late 2020.
It is located in Fujimigaoka, a district of Suginami City, on the western outskirts of Tokyo.
The project was designed around two themes, one functional and one spatial.
In the case of the former, the wooden structure had to be upgraded with an earthquake-proof retrofit system and the thermal insulation renewed at the same time.
For the latter, the existing dense layout of the ground floor required a solution to smooth out the floor plan, making it more comfortable and easy to maintain.
Work began by developing the idea of merging the original building with the new features as much as possible. Although the design was old and outdated in some aspects, it was still in relatively good condition, which provided the guidelines for the end result.
Typically, houses in Japan are built to last about 30 years and then demolished in favor of new construction. This is because the vast majority of them are equipped with a wooden structure to support them: this allows for decent stability in earthquakes, but at the same time they quickly break down due to the high humidity of Japanese weather.
These special conditions are mainly responsible for the average housing shortage.
However, in recent decades there has been a growing tendency to repair old properties rather than demolish them. The government regularly awards seismic retrofit subsidies to convert a 30-year-old or older building into a contemporary building.
Being a relatively young method, this system is still evolving, and year after year new solutions are tried and used in real life. Regardless of which technique is chosen, the idea is to connect all structural elements together. The outer walls in particular must be glued, as they must ensure the stability of the shell.
However, as a first step, the priority was to strengthen the individual components by connecting them together, adding new ones where necessary and installing thermal insulation within the framework of the perimeter walls.
As already mentioned, the concept of the project was to merge the existing house with the new intervention, thus creating a cozy flow in the spaces.
Instead of the succession of rooms being too small for a comfortable stay, the ground floor is now an open space that includes the kitchen, dining room and living room.
The current layout brings plenty of natural light into the home and enhances the relationship with the outdoor garden that surrounds the home.
To define the different areas, the pillars create smooth and almost intangible thresholds between the functions.
The only enclosed space on the ground floor is the studio, which has retained its original dimensions.
For the second floor, the changes applied only to the replacement of the old and non-repairable materials. Neither the division nor the function of the rooms was touched: the whitening of the walls and the removal of unnecessary furniture gave the floor a fresh look. The wicker parquet flooring is still the original and became the reference for the new flooring on the ground floor.
Fujimigaoka House was our chance to share our philosophy and ideas about renovation work.
As architects, we wanted to show how old buildings can still have value today. Sometimes what was designed yesterday is still suitable for contemporary living. Just a small change is enough to reevaluate a seemingly marketless space.