Nishigahara House | ROOVICE

Nishigahara House | ROOVICE


  • Project Name: Nishigahara House
  • Practice: ROOVICE
  • Products: Vectorworks
  • Completion year: 2021
  • Gross Built up Area: 96 m2
  • Project Location: Tokyo
  • Country: Japan
  • Lead Architects/Designer: Ryota Arai
  • Photo Credits: Akira Nakamura
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Excerpt: Nishigahara House, designed by ROOVICE, is the renovation of a residence with imperfect wooden elements brought by DIY philosophy creating an interesting mix with the precision and care. The House has the unique ability of providing the right atmosphere for everyone; whether you may prefer a more designed space, or maybe an irrational one, here you can find it.

Project Description

[Text as submitted by architect] Located in Nishigahara, a central north area of Tokyo, this project is the renovation of a two-floor family house. The first approach came from the desire of the owner to live in a DIY atmosphere where he could make the space unique with furniture custom made and crafted by himself.

Nishigahara House | ROOVICE
View of the living from the kids’ room © Akira Nakamura

Traditionally, dwellings in Japan were built with only a little or even without heat insulation at all, causing the inside to be excessively cold for nowadays standards. In addition, the seismic regulations keep changing so rapidly with constant innovation, that the structure of the buildings has to be updated regularly as well.

Nishigahara House | ROOVICE
View of the Doma © Akira Nakamura

The house is divided into two levels: on the first floor there are the studio, the bedroom and the bathroom; and on the second are placed the living, the kitchen, a small toilet and the kids’ room. From the original construction, only a few elements preserved their place: despite a new insulation system having been applied, the ground floor is still too cold for an enjoyable and comfortable stay. The current layout is then meant to bring more natural light and heat to the living where the windows along the whole south facade are placed. Both layers have been dismantled until their skeleton structure as first step, and then entirely rebuilt.

Nishigahara House | ROOVICE
First floor seen from just outside the entrance © Akira Nakamura

At the entrance we find the Doma, a typical feature of Japanese houses, which is the only place in the whole building where you are supposed to wear shoes. One step higher, the laminate flooring covers the studio and the bedroom. The new diagonal pillars are part of the seismic retrofitting system and complementary to the structural purpose, are needed for connecting pavement and ceiling with a material link. Consequently, the transition from the first floor to the second one becomes smoother and gentler.

Nishigahara House | ROOVICE
Perpendicular view of the dining table © Akira Nakamura

The second floor removed all the walls that were dividing the southern side in the existing dwelling: this generated a bright living room with the custom-made dining table placed in the space between the kitchen and the windows facing the balcony. Above the table, embracing the DIY philosophy, the owner decided to place a lamp that he crafted himself from a branch and some light bulbs. In the north side is situated the kitchen, which is entirely custom-designed and built, together with the second-floor toilet and the kids room divided by only a wall.

Nishigahara House | ROOVICE
Frontal view of the first-floor studio © Akira Nakamura

A common feature for Japanese wooden houses is to leave a void above the ceiling until the roof structure. It is meant to help the ventilation, especially for areas with water plumbing, preventing the formation of mould and condensation that would undermine the stability of the construction.

Nishigahara House | ROOVICE
View of the kitchen from the dining © Akira Nakamura
Nishigahara House | ROOVICE
Detail of the different ceilings in the second floor © Akira Nakamura

This detail is also working as a threshold between the various spaces: in fact, the ceiling is not everywhere at the same height, a pitched-roof shapes the living, while it flats for the kitchen and kids’ room.

Like downstairs, the new pillars have both functions of structure and connection of ground and ceiling, providing a homogeneous and continuous atmosphere amid the two levels of the building.

Nishigahara House | ROOVICE
Diagonal view of the entire second floor from the dining table © Akira Nakamura

The house seems to have a double character: the imperfection of the irregular wooden elements brought by the DIY philosophy creates an interesting mix with the precision and care of the designed spaces. Nishigahara House has the unique ability of providing the right atmosphere for everyone; whether you may prefer a more designed space, or maybe an irrational one, here you can find it.

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