House in Kitatoryo area

Completion: May, 2023
Location: Kyoto city, Kyoto
Building use: Private house
Type: Renovation
Main structure: wood structure
Photograph: Junichi Usui

The following is the concept for the renovation of the traditional Kyoto townhouse that I designed.

It is a renovation project of a 116-year-old townhouse built in the 40th year of the Meiji era. The project was initiated by Kyoto-based real estate company Hachise, specializing in Kyoto townhouses(Kyo-machiya). The company purchased the property with the intention of carrying out repairs and renovations before handing it over to a new owner. At the design stage, there was no specific owner identified. Taking into consideration the target market of second home usage, the project was developed considering the planned selling price, location, and market trends.

Due to the building’s age of over 100 years, extensive structural reinforcement was necessary, but given its position as a unit within a row house, the overall plan was designed to maintain the original proportions, including the facade. While preserving the traditional appearance of a Kyoto townhouse, the interior was reconfigured to combine Japanese aesthetics with a contemporary layout. Additionally, special attention was given to the compact yet characteristic townhouse courtyard, reevaluating its connection with the interior environment and rebuilding it accordingly.

The layout was designed to allow a visual connection from the entrance to the back garden. By raising the garden’s level to eye level, the boundaries between individual sections become blurred, creating a sense of spaciousness and enhancing the connection with the outside beyond the actual space. Throughout each floor and room, traditional plaster finishes and materials such as Kyoto’s Kurotani washi paper were used to harmonize with the traditional atmosphere of a Kyoto townhouse. Frost glass and shoji screens were incorporated into the windows to envelop the space in soft light, ensuring a calm impression and maintaining privacy within the urban context while allowing the play of light and shadow to be experienced according to the season and weather. The aim was to create a space that pays respect to the traditions and streetscape of Kyoto townhouses while adapting to the changing generations and lifestyles of the city’s residents.