The notion of “igokochi” – a Japanese term introduced by architect Yoshihumi Nakamura – encompasses the pursuit of comfort within the home environment. In today’s fast-paced and mobile society, a home serves not just as a functional necessity but also as a haven that extends beyond mere habitation. This explains the growing trend of choosing countryside residences over urban abodes, offering respite from the chaos and a space for self-discovery.

Project Name: A comfortable living space for urbanite
Project Location: Jiezi Ancient Town, Chengdu, China
Project area: 220m²
Design time: 2022.03
Completion time: 2023.03
Design Firm: DHB Design (
Chief Designers: Mark Sun, Yihan Wong
Participating Designer: Tingting Peng
Photography: sy-studio

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Our second project, a villa nestled in the scenic town of Chongzhou, epitomizes this concept. It marks our second collaboration with the same homeowner, fostering a bond that has evolved into a friendship and partnership. After extensive discussions with the homeowner, our designer streamlined traditional requirements to focus exclusively on crafting a familial vacation space, where every detail was painstakingly considered.

The brilliance of this second residence lies in its approach to “wasting” space, a departure from the calculated precision of the first home. Deliberate extravagance instantly transports occupants from the mundane to a vacation mindset. The design seamlessly integrates sunlight and nature, immersing inhabitants in lush greenery and fresh air from the moment they step inside.

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Bold structural changes create a flexible and versatile space that harmonizes functionality and aesthetics. Boundaries blur within this adaptable space, accommodating both the family’s public and private aspects. Natural sounds, such as wind, water, and birds, replace the clamor of television, providing the home’s authentic background music. It’s a space where family and close friends can gather to chat while preparing meals and brewing tea, or tend to household chores and garden plants during leisure time, engaging in physical labor while calming their minds.

For children, this space offers a secure “secret” base connected to the larger area, where they can nurture curiosity and explore freely as they grow. Meanwhile, busy homeowners can find solace at the bar, sipping coffee, and enjoying precious, undisturbed quality time with their children.

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The graceful curves of the design connect upper and lower spaces. Ascending the spiral staircase from the public area to the resting quarters, a well-organized hallway instills a sense of ritual and privacy, ensuring peaceful slumber. The master bedroom grants direct access to the scenery, with gentle sunlight filtering through the trees to gently awaken the occupants.

A timeless ambiance is achieved through the extensive use of warm white, textured paint, eschewing excessive ornamentation or hard materials. The design doesn’t adhere to labels or defined styles but seeks to unearth the homeowner’s unique personality. In contrast to the restrained and rigid atmosphere of the first residence, this space allows owners to shed their obligations and responsibilities, enabling them to embrace their true selves as art and life enthusiasts.

The natural stone bar and vintage wooden dining table foster a relaxed, natural atmosphere. A lemon-yellow arflex Marenco sofa injects playfulness, while a polka-dot side table adds a cheerful vacation vibe.

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Originally intended as a second home for occasional getaways, it has evolved into the true “home” for the entire family, a place they eagerly anticipate after a hectic week. On sunny days, sunlight bathes the interior through large black steel doors and windows, evoking the charm of Shanghai and the leisure of southern France. On rainy days, mist-shrouded views of the ancient town unfold, reminiscent of western Sichuan’s ancient towns. Seasonal courtyard flowers encourage them to slow down, reconnect with nature, and embrace the changing seasons. The warm, natural atmosphere of this home has profoundly calmed their frayed nerves and weary minds.

In today’s intricate and paradoxical world, homes offer more flexibility than ever. As people increasingly retreat to their second residences and redefine their perception of home, it transcends mere shelter, becoming an imaginative space for emotional experiences and social connections. Much like Xiaoyaozi’s painting “Wuxiang” adorning the living room, individuals explore self-expression and poetic sentiment through uninhibited use of color while maintaining order. Together, the first and second residences redefine the holistic meaning of “home.”


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