This wooden house renovation took place in Meguro, central Tokyo.

Initially built during the 1950s, it shows many features typical of the famous Showa Era (Japanese period from 1926 until 1989): this went from the early traditional architecture (based on a conservative approach) to the western-style buildings that became popular after the modernisation of the country back in the 1950s.

Project Name: Megurohoncho House
Studio Name: ROOVICE

Megurohoncho House by ROOVICE - Sheet5

The use of public bathhouses in Japan was widely popular until the late XX century, and this custom influenced the design of buildings in the country.

As a matter of fact, the majority of dwellings in that period didn’t provide the private bathroom facility, making them basically impossible to use nowadays.

Megurohoncho House was an example of private bathroom-lacking; hence, the project started from the requests of the client to add one inside. In addition, the structure had to be modernised with the newest seismic retrofitting systems and bring more natural light in the first floor as well.

Megurohoncho House by ROOVICE - Sheet6

The first step focused on the reinforcement of the existing structure by altering the layout in the lower level, which allowed the removal of the walls at the entrance. This change shifted the kitchen more to the centre of the plan, creating enough room behind it for the necessary bathroom. Now the floor is much more open, bright and flexible. A leftover traditional Japanese chest is used as a storage for kitchen tools.

A custom texture for the OSB panels was chosen to cover the walls in the first floor: a layer of white putty on top of a rough coat of grey paint, with one final cover more of clear colour. The result is surprisingly affordable and quick to make, especially compared to a painted plaster board.

Megurohoncho House by ROOVICE - Sheet9

As briefly mentioned above, the house was characterised by a severe lack of natural light in the entrance hall. A FRP (Fibre-reinforced plastic) grate in the hallway solved the problem, letting the natural light go from the zenith window directly to the ground floor. Together with the new entrance layout, it creates a lightful and calm atmosphere.

Beside the new hallway floor, the renovation for the second level has been arguably mild. A storage room replaced the toilet at the end of the corridor, while the two bedrooms’ tatami floors are now covered in wood panels. Furthermore, the two spaces are now divided by sliding doors to create one continuous flow if needed. The original ranma on top of them works as a threshold when the panels are opened and helps the ventilation of the spaces.

Megurohoncho House by ROOVICE - Sheet3

This house is part of the Kariage service (カリアゲ) program, meant to regenerate and sublease vacant properties built 30 or more years ago, at no cost for the owner.

Kariage’s dedicated homepage is linked below.


Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.