At the end of 2020 ROOVICE completed the renovation of a two-storey wooden house for a small family in Fujimigaoka (Suginami City, western outskirt of Tokyo) originally built in 1971.
Project Name: Fujimigaoka House
Studio Name: ROOVICE
The project had to face two main tasks from the start: update the timber structure with a seismic retrofitting system and replace the heat insulation, while trying to create a more comfortable first floor by smoothing the existing dense layout.
The renovation wanted to blend the original building with the new features as much as possible. In fact, despite being outdated for many aspects, the construction endured in a relatively good condition and it quickly became the reference for the final result.
Japan is known for its buildings to last roughly 30 years before being demolished in favour of a new erection taking place. There are multiple reasons for this to happen, with one of them being the frequent danger of earthquakes. Wooden structures are the most suitable to deal with the vibrations, but the particular humid climate makes it rot in a very short period of time.
However, the subsidies regularly allocated by the government to develop seismic retrofitting systems has increased the tendency of repairing old properties instead of demolishing them in the last decades. This pushed the research to find the best method to reinforce old structures, with many examples being used in real life already. Regardless of the technique chosen, the basic idea is to bond all the structural elements together. In particular, the perimeter walls are vital to connect considering that they must guarantee the stability of the shell.
With this in mind, the first thing to do was reinforcing each component by connecting them or adding new ones if necessary. At the same time, the thermal insulation has been replaced within the outer walls framework, thus completing the structural aspect of the project.
To increase the flow in the layout, the design team wanted to merge the existing house with the new intervention for a homogeneous atmosphere throughout.
Then, the first floor became an open space including kitchen, dining-room and living-room.
Together with the better circulation, plenty of natural light can now enlighten the home and improve the relationship with the outside surrounding garden.
The columns work as intangible thresholds between the various functions, with the exception of the studio which is the sole closed space of the first floor.
Upstairs, layout and functions remained the same as prior to the renovation: whitening the walls and replacing unrepairable materials was enough to give the ambience a fresher image. The woven parquet pavement is still the original one and was replicated in the ground-floor studio.
With Fujimigaoka House, ROOVICE wanted to show how valuable old buildings can be nowadays. Old doesn’t necessarily mean outdated, sometimes just a little change is more than enough to reevaluate what seems to be a marketless space.