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Japan’s Apollo Architects renovates old family house in style

by Phoebe Liu on Aug 1, 2017 in Architecture , Interiors , Top Story
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Portal-like frames, part of the original structure, change the view as one moves around the house

Portal-like frames, part of the original structure, change the view as one moves around the house

In a world where it's all too easy to pull down and start again, the idea that a homeowner wanted to retain rather than rebuild was music to the ears of Japan's Apollo Architects

Upon inheriting his family home in Tokyo's Ota ward, the owner was faced with a dilemma: to tear down and build anew, or to renovate. The house itself was of little architectural note; constructed more than three decades ago, it was pretty much your average, boxy detached house found throughout the city's residential districts.

The 30-year-old building has a simplistic beauty enhanced by the application of sympathetic design techniques

The 30-year-old building has a simplistic beauty enhanced by the application of sympathetic design techniques

What set this particular family home apart was its sentimental value: it had been built by the new owner's father, and it was this which determined the final decision to retain the existing framework of the structure.

For architect Satoshi Kurosaki, principal of Apollo Architects & Associates, it was an exciting and fulfilling process in which to be involved. "It was a project which saw the client returning to the home he had lived in until his teens, so he was 'going home' for the first time in 30 years," he says. "I enjoyed every step of the process, of deciding what to keep or not to keep… There was of course some hesitation on the client's part, and we looked for a balance to strike that could combine both his memories and his family's new future in the home."

The kitchen's skylight brings natural illumination into the heart of the home

The kitchen's skylight brings natural illumination into the heart of the home

The client originally considered tearing down the house on the large plot and replacing it with a modern structure. In the end, however, he realised that the 30-something-year-old home had an authentic beauty to it — plus, its reinforced concrete structure had remained sound. The decision was made to work with the existing framework. With this in mind, the renovation focused on upgrading the interiors and appliances, while the exterior was left untouched, aside from changes made to the approach, windows, and doors.

The placement of furniture explores the relationships among the different spaces in the split-level structure

The placement of furniture explores the relationships among the different spaces in the split-level structure

"By making good use of split-levels, we created a modern structure," explains Satoshi. "It is a renovation that combines lifestyles of both the past and current occupants. While making good use of the skeleton structure, we focused on increasing the efficiency of the internal facilities, heat insulation, and waterproofing."

TRIM House
Location: Ota ward, Tokyo
Date of completion: December 2016
Principal use: Private housing
Structure: Reinforced concrete
Site area: 268 sq-m
Total floor area: 194 sq-m
Architect: Apollo Architects & Associates
Mechanical engineer: Naoki Matsumoto
Lighting design: Sirius Lighting Office

This is an excerpt from the “Old becomes new" article from the Jul/Aug 2017 double issue of Perspective magazine.

To continue reading, get your copy of Perspective.

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