In this area where samurai residences under the castle of Nagoya were once lined up, there are now few finely divided buildings and retain the remnants of the past. Still, this area retains the atmosphere of the historic district centered on Tokugawaen, where the Tokugawa Art Museum is located.

Project name ‘Tokugawa-Cho Guesthouse
Studio Name: Tomoaki Uno Architects
Area: Nagoya City Aichi pref  Japan
Year: 2021
Location: Nagoya City Aichi pref  Japan
Consultants: Tomoaki Uno Architects
Photography Credits: Yasuo Hagiwara

Tokugawa-cho House By Tomoaki Uno Architects - Sheet5
©Yasuo Hagiwara

It is a company’s guest house planned on the site in one corner of the area. This project took nearly three and a half years from design to completion. The existing house, which functioned as a guesthouse for the owner’s company, was the owner’s birthplace. The plan was to renovate it to be earthquake-resistant and enhance its functions.

Tokugawa-cho House By Tomoaki Uno Architects - Sheet7
©Yasuo Hagiwara

This guesthouse consists of 4 buildings. A tea room and a storage room were added to the north side of the main building in the center, and a mansion gate with an office was newly built on the roadside. The main building is a 70-year-old two-story wooden house that retains the style of a traditional Japanese home. The two-room tatami room on the first floor is the main guest room. I commissioned a glass artist to create this tatami room’s lighting and exterior lights. The second floor used to be the owner’s family’s private room, divided into smaller sections. The floor, walls, and ceiling had a modern interior that one would not expect from the exterior. It was renovated into a gallery to display the owner’s tea utensils and hanging scrolls. The original chestnut floors were replaced with chestnut floors again. The ceiling was removed, and the attic was exposed to give the space a character that only an old house could have.

Tokugawa-cho House By Tomoaki Uno Architects - Sheet11
©Yasuo Hagiwara

The teahouse, which was added on the north side of the main building, was built by the best craftsmen in Japan, the Nakamura Gaiji Construction Company. The tea ceremony room was built using traditional methods. In addition to the tea room, a two-story storage room made of wood was added. The first floor of the storage room is a kitchen for tea ceremonies and guests.

Along the road, a new office was built to serve as the facility’s gate. This building is the face of the facility. It must be appropriate for the historic district and enhance the company’s image. In addition, the building had to have a porte-cochere where visitors would not get wet from the rain, a restroom for the drivers, toilets, and an office. I came up with the idea of a traditional Nagayamon gate. For the design and structure to withstand several hundred years, prominent structural members such as pillars and beams were exposed. I tried to create a traditional yet modern design.

Tokugawa-cho House By Tomoaki Uno Architects - Sheet14
©Yasuo Hagiwara

The work of giving dimensions to each piece of wood while being bewildered by the volume of wood that would not be used on a residential scale, was frightening, but imagining what it would be like when it was assembled was the most uplifting feeling. There was a time when I was confused by the unfamiliar architecture when it was actually assembled, but over time I came to believe that the dimensions I had given were correct. By the time this building is at its most beautiful, I will have long since passed away. All I can do now is pray that this building will be surrounded by much love in the distant future.

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