This Traditional Japanese Home Designed To Fit Your Future Award winning Japanese Architectural Firm Kiriko Design Office, led by Kokutou Uemori and Masaaki Uemori, have design this narrow yet spacious single-story house, Kokubu. It sits in a suburban area of southern Japanese region, Kochi Prefecture, known for its mountains, volcanos and beaches. Despite having a range of requirements to meet, such as creating a comfortable space that fits with the environment, the father-and-son design duo were able to design a building that looks effortless in its surrounding. Volcanic ash walls and extensive use of wood let the building blend into the surrounding nature. And despite only having a narrow area land on which to build the house, the result is building with an airy, spacious feel. Among Kokubu’s signature features are a wood lattice with a unique design, made up of sections of wood of varying length, and a Doma – a section that is neither inside nor outside typical of traditional Japanese homes. We spoke to Kokutou Uemori about the design. THE PLUS: How did you incorporate both modern and traditional architecture in this design? Kokutou Uemori: We designed the traditional life style of Japan that is closely related with nature by the contemporary materials. TP: Where is the wood sourced from? KU: From Kochi, Japan.We use a lot of local natural materials. TP: What’s your favourite feature of the design? KU: I’m very happy with the wood lattice. TP: What do you like about designing residential projects? KU: There is a delight in expressing each client’s personality in house design. TP: How do the clients keep cool in the summer? KU: The large eave on the roof intercepts direct sunlight. In addition, deciduous trees play a role by adjusting sunlight in both summer and winter. Also, the volcanic ash used on the exterior wall helps to suppress high temperatures inside and outside the building – you can sprinkle it with water in summer. TP: What was it like using volcanic ash for the wall? Which volcano was the ash from? KU: It’s the first time we’ve used it and we found that the unique texture of volcanic ash helps make the appearance of the building really appealing. The ash came from Sakurajima in Kagoshima. TP: Why did you design the pattern of the wood for the section of the wall in this way? KU: To have an appropriate distance with the surrounding environment, I decided to use lattice work where pitch and size are changed. TP: The building seems spacious but it is also narrow. How did you maximise space in the building? KU: We decided to have a flow line where we can walk around freely in and outside each other such as connecting each individual room by balcony. This way, we can emphasise the spaciousness of the building.