A Super-Insulated Home in Japan Brings Comfort to an Elderly Couple

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By Michele Koh Morollo
This retreat in Ehime in northwestern Shikoku belongs to an aging husband and wife who don't see eye-to-eye on air conditioning.

He is averse to air conditioning, but she can't stand the heat. The couple hired local Ehime studio Takashi Okuno & Associates to design this modern Japanese home, where they can dwell comfortably while enjoying climatic conditions that are ideal for their health and wellbeing. 

A Super-Insulated Home in Japan Brings Comfort to an Elderly Couple - Photo 1 of 14 -
A Super-Insulated Home in Japan Brings Comfort to an Elderly Couple - Photo 2 of 14 - The living room features a sofa by Room & Board club chairs by Dartbrook Rustic Goods.

The living room features a sofa by Room & Board club chairs by Dartbrook Rustic Goods.

To meet their requirements, the studio’s lead architect Takashi Okuno used diatomaceous earth—a soft, sedimentary rock that crumbles into a white powder and provides good thermal insulation—for the walls and floors of the 1,570-square-foot residence. 

A Super-Insulated Home in Japan Brings Comfort to an Elderly Couple - Photo 3 of 14 -
A Super-Insulated Home in Japan Brings Comfort to an Elderly Couple - Photo 4 of 14 -

To maintain airtightness and retain heat in the colder months, Okuno fitted the home with external aluminum blinds, high-performance sliding wooden window frames, and insulating screens. 

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This allows the couple to close off the interiors during the summer months to keep the heat out, and open it up during winter to take in the warming sunlight without losing heat. 

A Super-Insulated Home in Japan Brings Comfort to an Elderly Couple - Photo 6 of 14 -

After surveying the wind directions on the site, Okuno created a wind chimney above the kitchen to promote ventilation. 

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Clean-lined, minimalist furnishings in the living areas and two bedrooms give the home a stable and grounded character. 

A Super-Insulated Home in Japan Brings Comfort to an Elderly Couple - Photo 8 of 14 - The sideboard from One Kings Lane.

The sideboard from One Kings Lane.

Cedar rafters were used in the living room to give the space a sense of expansiveness. 

A Super-Insulated Home in Japan Brings Comfort to an Elderly Couple - Photo 9 of 14 -

A built-in sofa was positioned near a window, where soft sunlight streams through. 

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A latticed, sliding partition can be opened to connect the living with the dining area, or closed to separate them. 

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One of the bedrooms faces a sun-drenched inner courtyard with a raised deck that’s accessible via the living room. 

A Super-Insulated Home in Japan Brings Comfort to an Elderly Couple - Photo 12 of 14 - The dining table is from Berkshire wood products, and the dining chairs are from AllModern.

The dining table is from Berkshire wood products, and the dining chairs are from AllModern.

In the dining room, a row of potted orchids sit within planters along the interior windows, so the couple can admire their orchards and look beyond the plants into their Zen-like courtyard. 

A Super-Insulated Home in Japan Brings Comfort to an Elderly Couple - Photo 13 of 14 -
A Super-Insulated Home in Japan Brings Comfort to an Elderly Couple - Photo 14 of 14 -


Project Credits: 

Architecture: Takashi Okunu & Associates 

Builder: Momiji Kenchiku Co., Ltd. 

Gardener: Taro Senba 

Photographer: Shigeo Ogawa

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