中京の家 / IMAMURA DESIGN+クル建築事務所


(English below)









Redefined machiya that weaves together tradition and contemporary practice

How can one incorporate contemporary demands into a traditional architecture like the Kyo-machiya while keeping its classic elements? “Redefined Machiya” is a house that stems from one designer’s quiet thinking sessions within this context.

The house stands on a long and narrow plot of land that stretches from east to west in ​​Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto City. The surrounding neighborhood is designated as an “Old Urban Landscape Aesthetic Area” with a number of architectural restrictions, among them – buildings must be ten meters or less in height and incorporate sloped roofs and eaves. The owner/designer of the house has always admired a functional, practical aesthetic that eschews all unnecessary elements as well as loving the sophisticated design found hidden in the “plainness” of a traditional machiya. Therefore, when faced with Kyoto’s strict architectural regulations, she decided to treat it as an opportunity to redefine the machiya rather than as an obstacle to design freely and took on the challenge to search for a sustainable design, not only for durability and structural reasons, but also to build energy-saving performance within a modern aesthetics.

The design of the overall structure is constrained by the city’s building regulations, incorporating a sloped roof and eaves (which is a style often seen in Kyo-machiya) while changing to a poured-in-place concrete structure for durability. The roof and eaves are finished with Japanese roof tiles traditionally used for Kyo-machiya. The external walls are covered with a thermal insulation layer painted in a dark gray to blend in with the surrounding environment.

The interior structure is similar to that of a traditional Kyo-machiya – the 1st and 2nd floors of the east wing face the street and act as working spaces, while the 1st and 2nd floors of the west wing are residential. The center moss garden (1st floor) and terrace (2nd floor) between the eastern and western structures provide open space between the work and private zones. In addition, the atrium of the kitchen, the passage leading from the entrance to the back of the house, and the center moss garden and rear water garden are designed specifically to bring in more light and air in homage to traditional Kyo-machiya design. Both gardens are serviced with water from a pre-existing well on the property.

Elements of energy-saving construction were also applied in order to address contemporary issues such as environmental sustainability. For example, the house is built using a high-performance thermal insulation envelope over a poured-in-place concrete structure. It is also airtight and uses double-glazed windows. The effective use of the thermal insulating properties of concrete and the internal heat exchange ventilation system together can reduce the building’s energy consumption by an estimated 70%.

The attempt to incorporate contradictory elements – tradition and modernity, Japanese and Western styles, delicacy and roughness, richness and simpleness (Japanese “wabi-sabi”) – continues in the interior design.

The rough surface of concrete walls, an effect created by utilizing used plywood for the concrete forms, was balanced with the warmth of sukiya zukuri shoji screens built into the inner walls. The designer’s collection of lighting fixtures of her own design and old textiles of Naga and Persian origin were strategically placed to add softness to the space. The kitchen and bathroom countertops are terrazzo made using a traditional technique that adds texture to an otherwise minimalist modern space.

The designer’s quest to redefine the Kyo-machiya, a delicate balance satisfying contemporary sustainability and traditional demands, will continue for years to come. (Etsumi Imamura)



省エネルギー構造計画コンサルタント:京都工芸繊維大学大学院 芝池英樹 准教授
造園設計、施工:IMAMURA DESIGN、達造園




Location: Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
Principal use: Private house, Artist studio, Design office
Client: Individual
Completion: 2018

Architects: IMAMURA DESIGN, Kuru Architectural Office
Design team: Etsumi Imamura
Structure engineer: Asukoraru Structural Engineering Laboratory
Contractor: Dezao
Consultant for energy efficiency planning & engineering: Associate Professor Hideki Shibaike of Kyoto Institute of Technology
External wall insulation construction: Takamoto Corporation
Heat recovery ventilation system: Shinetsu BIB
Landscape planning, Construction: IMAMURA DESIGN, Tatsuzoen

Photographs: Yasunori Shimomura, Eiichi Yonemura, Etsumi Imamura

Construction type: New Building
Main structure: Reinforced Concrete construction
Building scale: 2 Stories
Site area: 260.00m²
Building area: 176.05m²
Total floor area: 328.09m²
Design term: 2015.09-2017.04
Construction term: 2017.12-2018.10

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