tokugawacho guest house by tomoaki uno architects

tomoaki uno has converted a family home in aichi, japan, into a guest house with earthquake resistance. the transformation took four years to complete and also involved the creation of three new structures: a connected storeroom and tea-ceremony house and a separate office facing onto the street.

tomoaki uno tokugawacho guest house in japan
the new nagayamon-inspired office building

images by yasuo hagiwara (unless stated otherwise)

the tea ceremony house

built using entirely traditional methods, the tea ceremony house is described by the architect as ‘one of the most rigorous and delicate examples of traditional japanese architecture’.  tomoaki uno commissioned a specialist craftsman from kyoto, who assembled the post and beam timber structure in his workshop before bringing it to site to reassemble. the walls incorporate a mesh of bamboo woven with straw rope, called ‘takekomai’, which is used to cover the walls with compressed earth. the walls are then finished with two coats of smooth earthen.

tomoaki uno tokugawacho guest house in japan
courtyard view

image by yasu kojima

the storeroom

the storeroom initially had a gable roof to blend in with the existing main house. however, the architect decided to give it a contemporary form to contrast with the original architecture but altered the design to keep the materials in harmony. the storeroom is designed for optimum humidity control. a kitchen is planned on the first floor and the storeroom occupies the upper level, where only skylights control the lighting and ventilation.

tomoaki uno tokugawacho guest house in japan
the architect commissioned a specialist craftsman from kyoto to assemble a post and beam structure

the office

finally, the new office looks to ‘nagayamon’, which is a type of large gate that was built in the past to control traffic in and out of the residences of feudal lords. in reference to this, uno planned a long building along the street edge of the site with a large opening. the first floor contains a porch and office while the second floor is occupied by a larger office space. the first floor also features a narrower width than the upper level to create space for a toilet and a storage room.

‘it was very difficult to find these materials because pillars and beams over 30 cm are rarely used in construction in japan today,’  says uno about the project. ‘it was also not possible to build everything in traditional timber construction, which is not allowed by current legislation. therefore I tried to use scientific methods and not to defile the traditional japanese architecture.’

the architect continues, ‘all the wood used here is cedar, selected from all over japan. some of the larger pieces, in particular, have been carefully nurtured over several generations by lumberjacks. I took on this work with a great deal of responsibility.’

tomoaki uno tokugawacho guest house in japan
the tea ceremony house interior

image by yasu kojima

tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
the renovated guest house interior

tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
the large gate-like opening of the new office

tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
the renovated guest house at night

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tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house
tomoaki uno applies traditional japanese craftsmanship to tokugawacho guest house

project info:

name: tokugawacho guest house

location: aichi prefecture, japan

architect: tomoaki uno architects