Several years ago, the city of Omi Hachiman in Japan’s Shiga Prefecture started building thousand-resident ecovillages in the suburbs. The idea was to create a sustainable local model that harmonized the human impact with the natural surroundings. Apparently they’ve done something right, because they’re still there, and still improving.
This year, architects from ALTS Design Office were brought in to take the process a step further. Rather than maintain the traditional strict separation between inner and outer, the Kofunaki House brings nature (or the outer) right inside.
Bring On The Trees
The traditional entryway — or genkan — in a Japanese house usually offers a strict sense of separation between the inner home and the outside world. In the Kofunaki House, it’s the first place to indicate a different type of atmosphere — a gravel garden and wooden stepping stones are a far gentler transition and suggest much less separation.
Inside the home, natural wood surfaces and small plants abound. Rooms and interior areas are separated by clear curtains, giving the house an open feeling. It’s a very, very different sense than the standard Japanese home, which rigidly separates rooms and areas. In a way, it goes back to the even older feeling of medieval Japanese houses — the ones with sliding doors and windows that can be opened to catch an opportune breeze in summer and closed to keep in the heat in winter — and a hint that the people are once again living in harmony with the environment.
There’s no word on how else the Kofunaki House might be harmonizing with nature, but it certainly is pretty. Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Charis Michelsen spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissin, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.