House in Sakura

Sakura, Chiba, Japan
Masaki Komatsu

A renovation project like this [House in Sakura] is a rare opportunity and a unique chance to treat memory and material equally as design components.

Naoyuki Tokuda of architecture design and research office tokudaction explains. The process of inheriting a traditional Japanese house is relatively tedious and costly, resulting in many abandoned structures across the country. Therefore, the poetic phrase above is a sense of fulfilment in the opportunity of creating dwellings between old and new.

House in Sakura is an abode of memory fragments. At first glance, the decorative roofing tiles encompass the structure with a magical air of the past. The surrounding garden gives a natural embrace with swaying branches and hanging yellow fruits. Masked behind an olden facade is a minimal interior made of wood panels and white plaster. Exploring the boundary between modernity and tradition, the architect cleverly blends different elements for refreshing instances of nostalgia.

Entering the project, the residents are welcomed with an antique cabinet. Its dark colouration contrasts the walls and ceilings of pale wood. Their arrangement creates an array of gridded seams connected with spherical bulbs of warm light. The exposed light heats up the air and intensifies the smell of pine, reconnecting the inner and outer environment.

Adorning the double-height living room is a wooden armature. Acting both as structural support and a decorative piece, it also functions as a homage to the initial construction. Across the fabric sofa and circular coffee table, a thin white curtain opens up to a courtyard of sunlit summer. Elevated off-ground, the sight from this space becomes a picturesque artwork made of foliage.

To the right, the engawa's floor is covered with green tatami mats. Their hue softens up the heavily wooden interior while maintaining a consistent geometric composure. The tokonoma alcove is modestly left intact, dimly lit by the paper-covered windows and the elongated opening with fluttering curtains. Here, the newly added hallway runs on one side, leaving the original details untouched and creating a striking visual distinction.

The clever design idea of tokudaction lies in their clear separation of old and new. When distinguished, those elements can be effortlessly fused to give compelling outcomes. By incorporating textural surfaces—be it the circular pattern of wood, the waving movement of fabric, or the coarse rectilinearity of souji—the designers deliver a series of profound moments, all connected by the inhabitants' memories.

In the shop