Oiso House is the renovation of a two-storey family house in Oiso, a small town on the coast facing the Sagami bay, in the Kanagawa Prefecture.

The original project included the residential typology only, but it soon changed when the client asked to add a room for remote work as well.

Project Name: Oiso House
Studio Name: Roovice

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In terms of aesthetic, the owner asked specifically to preserve as much as possible the memories and the feelings he experienced in his home during the years.

Traditionally speaking, Japanese wooden houses are designed and built starting from a standard floor plan where the distribution of the rooms develops around a central circulation system. Within this scheme, each space stands on its own without any interaction with the other chambers. It often happens that the circulation space, usually a hallway, becomes tight and uncomfortable.

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This happened for Oiso House as well, where one of the first steps was rethinking the flow inside the dwelling together with keeping the atmosphere of the place alive.

The mutual point for those aspects was embodied by the existing wooden structure: in fact, timber alters its tone according to its age since it’s constantly absorbing and imbuing the environmental elements around. Therefore, the structure carries the echo of the old dwelling, while allowing substantial changes to the room’s disposition.

To solve the circulation, it was of great importance to create connections between the various ambiences. Those connections came in two forms: physical relations and visual ones. For the former, the kitchen and the generous Japanese-style room have been bonded by placing a door in the wall dividing them. For the latter, all the sliding doors that once enclosed each room have been removed, thus allowing them to perceive different areas at the same time.

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The existing house was distinguished by an assortment of textures, tones and materials which caused inconsistencies on the inside. Hence, the attention centred on creating harmony between the various elements in order to enhance the structure as much as possible. The right colour of the walls with the proper amount of light helped to elevate the timber elements to the predominant role.

Consequently, every space obtained a specific tone which generated a unique atmosphere: the former tatami mats were replaced by cushioned floors since they were no longer suitable with the purpose of a living and working space.

For the upper level, the project became a restoration rather than a renovation: all the primitive features were repaired instead of being replaced. Here the walls got new wallpaper, while the tatami were resurfaced since they are still used for the residential end.

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The project aimed at fixing and matching the elements together, seeking coherence while leaving the structure independent as the last step of the process. Every change applied was intended to soften the secondary components at the same time as paradoxically fortifying its major wooden one by not touching it at all.

Usually, old Japanese wooden houses see their structure decaying quite rapidly because of the humid environment where they are placed. Luckily though, in this case the pillars and beams were still in a good condition which avoided any seismic retrofitting. This allowed the design to keep the image of the traditions that only wood can provide.


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