Japanese design studios Td-Atelier and Endo Shorijo Design have renovated a century-old machiya townhouse in Kyoto with minimal interiors that intend to honour the home’s existing architecture.
Called House in Marutamachi, the Japanese house was built over 120 years ago and is arranged across two floors on a long and narrow site.
Tucked between two other residential properties, the house is an example of the wooden machiya townhouses that were once common in Japan’s historical capital Kyoto but are now at risk of going extinct.
“Traditional Kyoto townhouses are being destroyed at a pace of 800 houses a year,” Td-Atelier explained.
“Old buildings don’t match modern life. However, we want to stop the decline of Kyoto townhouses by fusing tradition, design and new life.”
Td-Atelier and Endo Shorijo Design dressed House in Marutamachi’s interior with new components including sleek tiles and geometric furniture alongside materials reused from the original house, as seen in the traditional team room.
The studios retained the building’s wooden columns and beams but added white volumes to house rooms including the kitchen and study to avoid disturbing the existing architecture with harsh structural materials.
These variously sized cubes were designed to mimic the contrasting heights of buildings in a cityscape.
“The gaps and omissions created between the volume group and the existing columns, beams, walls and floors create continuity in the space,” Td-Atelier said.
Throughout the house, Td-Atelier and Endo Shorijo Design adopted a minimal material and colour palette including a combination of light and dark woods alongside smooth concrete.
A thin, sculptural light is suspended above the timber breakfast bar on the second floor, where occupants can sit on clusters of subtle-coloured stools.
Outside, a plant-filled garden features elements from the building’s original architecture such as sandy-hued lanterns and a chōzubachi – a traditional stone water bowl historically used for washing hands before a tea ceremony.
House in Marutamachi was shortlisted for house interior of the year at the 2022 Dezeen Awards.
Dezeen recently announced the winners of this year’s interiors categories, who are now competing to win the overall interiors project of the year award.
The photography is by Matsumura Kohei.
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