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Fukushima, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan | View Map
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Case: The owner is moving from another place to his wife’s parents’ premises and feels deeply attached to the existing stone-built warehouse.  

Solution: Renovate instead of clearing and turning it into a vacant land.

Result: Life open to the neighbors.

This is a house built by repairing a stone-built warehouse.

The owner’s family were to build a new house and live on his wife’s parents’ premises, but there was already a fine warehouse made of stone built back in 1973.

There were glimpses of similar stone warehouses in the surrounding area, creating a distinctive scenery.

The warehouse was well taken care of by the owner’s grandfather, still sturdy and splendid, and we suggested to build a house by renovating it.

The owner was surprised and delighted, as he was convinced that he had to clear the land.

We placed bedroom on the second floor, and living room with a large dining table, bookshelf surrounding the table and kitchen with great garden view on the first floor.

There is no proper entrance—this is perhaps the secret to the non-residential ambience, or the lack of typical exclusiveness of private housing, of this house which is apparently generating some sort of familiarity and homelike welcome to the neighbors.

Much less nerve-racking than other people’s houses but more intimate than public facilities, the owner’s family named this house “etobun” in the hope of evolving it into a community space in the future.

Detailed version

“More than a house but less than a store”

Walking into the urbanization control area from the inner city of Fukushima City through Prefectural Road 4, a peaceful rural landscape with a number of long stone-built warehouses come into sight, along with apple and pear farms. The owner’s grandfather also built a magnificent stone warehouse in 1973 and has been taking care of it well ever since.

The owner’s family who were to move to this area was thinking of clearing the warehouse and building a new house. When the family came to us and visited the premises together, there was a well-kept, grave but somewhat lively stone warehouse blending into the scenery. The truss structure of the small attached annex built afterwards was also being perfectly preserved and had its own charm. As soon as we saw them, we suggested keeping everything, including the annex, as it is and renovating it into a house. The owner was surprised and delighted, as he was convinced that he had to clear the warehouse, to which he feels deeply attached.

The owner sought a “place” which could be his home office, studio, or library depending on the situation, rather than a proper “house”. To live up to such request, we decided to build a kitchen by extending the annex, and to place bathroom basin and dining room on the first floor and a bedroom on the second floor of the warehouse.

The house is designed to have a smooth transfer between its shared space and private space, going from the open kitchen just under the eaves surrounded by windows to the dining room with a stone wall, and then to the private room on the second floor, and vice versa.

While the sliding door by the kitchen is the main entrance to this house, it lacks visual features signifying that it is the entrance, and this is apparently generating some sort of homelike welcome and allowing neighbors to visit freely by peeping into the inside of the house over the glass door. The owner’s family keeps the house visitor-friendly by avoiding leaving their personal belongings on the first floor.

The owner’s family gave this house a name of “etobun”. By giving it a name, they are hoping to welcome the house as the fourth member of the family and evolve it into a community space in the future.

The owner describes this house—named after the hope for it to become much less nerve-racking than other people’s houses but more intimate than public facilities—as a place that is “more than a house but less than a store”. We are delighted to see him enjoying planning what kind of place he wants to turn the house into.

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