This house, now built up in Yokohama, will never be occupied by a young couple with or without kids, a retired husband and wife or a business woman with a tight schedule and a big wardrobe. This is a prototype house built by a Japanese real state agency to showcase a new concept design within its catalogue for potential clients. May sound weird in an occidental culture but it’s a very common practice in Japan where those who dream about living in a detached house with garage and backyard provide their own plot and get in contact with the agency that better matches its expectancies. As a consequence the process of buying a house becomes something similar to buying just a product, associated to standard solutions but with the possibility to adjust the original concept design to your own needs. This mindset will affect the process in all its stages, from the architectonic project or the making of the prototype to the sales method, the adjustment of the project to the client requests and finally the construction at the specific site.
The briefing we receive is concise, a Mediterranean house in Japan built in wood!! After the first shock and spending a couple of weeks in the Land of the Rising Sun things seem to be clearer. We approach the eastern way of life, get inside the habits of Japanese people and understand the method described previously. We decide to start with a strong concept design that provides character and identity and that will remain unaltered throughout the process of adjustment to each client needs. The Mediterranean recalls the sound of the sea, the salted taste, the smell of the pine trees, all of them details that obviously we cannot find in the outskirts of Yokohama. But it means also sun, light, shadows and fresh air (or suffocating air). A courtyard, a traditional element in the Mediterranean architecture, will be our central piece. We design a house that transmits intimacy, which is difficult to reach in the dense pattern of Japanese cities, and at the same time enjoy the environment. We aim for the “exterior” to sneak inside and the “interior” to escape outside.
Interior and exterior get in touch in a lot of corners and in many different ways. We find big terraces or little balconies, covered by shadows or sunbathed, entries protected by lattices, exterior corners where to enjoy a summer meal and the courtyard as the core element surrounded by the rest of the house. The courtyard at the core of the house, protected from unwanted viewings, becomes the center of the ground floor offering natural light, air and transparency. Crossing ventilations and perspectives offer a perception of the space as wide an unique giving an image far away from the classical tiny proportions of the Japanese architecture. Le Corbusier defined the house as the “Living Machine” we prefer to feel it as the place to enjoy life.