"We aspired to create a buoyant and bustling hub," says architect Takayuki Shimada, speaking of the tent-shaped home he and his team at Takeru Shoji Architects built in 2019. His clients were a young couple who desired a versatile, semipublic home on their generational estate in Tsurugasone, a small agricultural village about four hours north of Tokyo. After witnessing the growing physical and emotional separation between rural families, the design team saw the project as an opportunity to restore a fading communal connection.
"The estate already contained an assemblage of buildings and farmland that depended on one another," explains Shimada. "Our design direction was to create a home that revitalized these on-site structures and had the potential to adapt to new functions as the need or mood changed."
The solution was an A-frame structure draped over a rectangular interior volume. A set of parallel glass doors in the central living/dining room allow air to flow through home and connect the occupants with neighbors passing along the adjacent street.
Shimada adds, "Instead of a conventional self-reliant building, we designed a space where workshops, meetings, and events can spill out onto the land, thus opening the home to the village." He describes the open-air sides as a deliberate measure to extend the building envelope with semipublic spaces.
"We started our design by conceptualizing the building as incomplete," says Shimada. "The home should invite people from the village to utilize it, thus becoming part of the community. By establishing this type of architecture, with its blank canvas, a space is born that establishes itself as an attraction of interest and activity."
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The structure’s long-term use was also top of mind for Shimada when completing the design. "The challenge was to design a connection that ties together the future, surrounding buildings, the agricultural community, and the village as a whole," he says.
"Someday, the couple imagines moving into another family residence on the property and passing this home on to their eldest son to use with his family," notes the project description. "Or perhaps the second son will renovate the work shed and practice agriculture, leaving the leftover space to be used by interns from overseas who have come to study."
Takeru Shoji Architects sees opportunities like the Hara House as a way to create a "new management system for a village." The project is part of an initiative by the firm to revitalize local villages that were once thriving, interconnected places.
Construction: Hirokatsu Yokoo of Yoshihara Gumi
Structural Engineering: Tetsuya Tanaka, Tetsuya Tanaka Structural Engineers
Photography: Isamu Murai
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