Designed by Kurosawa Kawaraten, this remodel of a customary wooden house in Japan has now become the office for Ichihara Life and Work commission to develop a base of operations.
Centered on the business concept of “Kaitakusha” the developed design was attempted to create ‘Light on Vacant houses’ whereby the idea of lightening up on things like vacant houses that are presently unnecessary to the owners and locals, but attractive to outsiders, are strongly connected to the next generation.
The Context of setting up an office for Ichihara Life and Work Commission
During the year 2020, COVID-19 had mostly forced for a transformation in the lifestyle of the Japanese, as much as in the other countries. The scenario demanded for remote work or a work from home setting, that was completely a new possibility of leading life. The increase in infection rates also predicted that more people would depart from densely populated regions in Japan and attempt to settle down in suburbs or rural areas.
It was then that a member of the Regional Development Cooperation Volunteers from the Kamo area of Southern Ichihara was working on “Kaitakusha” . Also then, in retaliation to the coronoa crisis the public private partnership named the “Ichihara Life and Work Commission” was established to accept people who wanted to move to the satoyama area, while at the same time taking measures to prevent infection.
Therefore, opening vacant houses in the Kamo area and renting out as an exit project for the Cooperation Volunteers required to facilitate individual immigration behind the Yorokeikoku Station.
An economical reconditioning of the Old House
The main house was a very attractive building, but due to the budget, the construction work, and the difficulty of design and construction, it was decided to use only the detached house. Also, as a mark of the difference in values between the owner and outsiders, the “Chonan house” made of new construction materials next to a magnificent traditional wooden structure was favoured more.
It was then that the idea of proposing a renovation to the old and low priority wooden house, to further bring out the potential of the “Chonan House,” was planned critically.
Design and Execution of the renovation project for Ichihara Life and Work Commission
At first, all the non-stractural walls dividing the interior space was removed. This then made it easier to plan and reinforce the conventional wooden structure. The concrete block foundation also had to be reinforced, but there was no budget for towing the house. Due to this, it was then decided to partially place the foundation while retaining the upper framework.
By digging extra earth at this time, a space of two layers was secured, and the space was reconfigured into a step floor space with minimal pressure on the surrounding area with little change to the external form.
Spaces inside the Chiba Cabin
To create an office space from where people can look at the scenery of a beautiful valley village, while working was implemented by the construction of large windows on the north face of the second floor. The soil dug for the foundation was used as the finishing for the counter top panel of the Otsu polishing, whereas the bricks created in the workshop were used as the tiling for the reception counter. For the interior and exterior, oak, mountain cherry, small oak, and magnolia trees were cut and milled from hardwoods that were no longer used and had become large trees in the hills behind the village.
The spacious one-room space is not only for young people, prospective immigrants, and other outsiders, but also for local people who are on good relationship with the Kaikyakusha, who frequently come the house.
- Project: Ichihara Life and Work commission office
- Architect: kurosawa kawara-ten
- Location: Japan
- Photography: Masato Chiba
- Text: Nikitha Sunil Vallikad | Contributor, A+D