Saturday, May 15, 2010

Kichijoji C-House Chapter 1 - New House Plans

As I mentioned in a previous post, it's hard to let go of one's vision even if one must adjust to the new terrain. But it was a bit of shock when I saw the configuration below. To be fair, it was just a very very rough plan and was made mostly to fill out to 150 square meters which is the total usable space which we need to present on the loan application form.

There were so many things wrong with it:
  • The entrance is very narrow on West side and unwelcoming.
  • Extra greenery is on the North side and too narrow to be considered a "space".
  • Too many corners down the corridors make you feel like in a rat tunnel.
  • 2 Floor utility room has an adjacent balcony which does not get much sun for hanging the laundry.
  • The dining room is too isolated.
  • Can't see what's going on in the study from the kitchen. Are the kids doing homework or are they surfing Youtube?
So this is what happens when you don't meet your architect....!!

Now that you've seen the BEFORE, now see what happens when you have a 2-hour brainstorming session.

Let's start with the first floor:

As you can see the layout has changed dramatically.
  • We moved the entrance on the South side so it is a welcoming approach.
    Sakamoto our architect and principal of ISTA (Institute of Space,Technology, and Architecture) and winner of Good Design Award in 2009 provided some 3D sketches throughout the across the plans for us to get a real feel for some of the rooms.
Below is an example of the entrance with storage and floor window, as well as a front facing sketch of the Bathroom.

  • Girls room is more North-South with the North for sleeping and South for playing and studying (yeah right!).
  • Entrance hallways is wider and will act as an Art gallery.
  • Bathtub is now on the NorthEast corner and will have a small lit garden as a view.
  • Private garden will be adjacent to Master Bedroom and Public garden will be on the other side of the Entrance.
  • Linen Closet built using corner of Ishan's room.
  • Stair will be skeleton staircase which allows for more light and under will be a display space for Ikebana with window.

For the 2nd floor, it's a return to my original vision but with more space to play with.

  • We've added a family room on the NorthWest side and it will have a skylight.
  • The Dining room will also have a skylight.
  • Both Family Room and Study can be see from the kitchen.
  • Very Long Diagonal views from Family room to outside Deck, as well from Study to Kitchen. Although the space is open, it will be cozy and intimate and encourage family interactions yet allow for some private space.
  • Here's a view from the family room down to the study. We will have open beams going down the room to visually create a nuanced sense of demarcation. The loft wall above the kitchen will have a small overhang to place art work and decorations. There will also be a pillar on the kitchen counter to provide support for the loft but will also act as a decorative detail.
  • Finally below is the study with built-in bookshelves and built-in couch that is the same size as a single bed to accommodate for an overnight guest. We will place a double (american-type) futon couch on the corner for when the grandparents visit.

In my opinion this is a good start, yet we have a long way to go.
Let me know what you think!


  1. Wow. That looks great.

    My best friends live in Kichijoji, right off Inokashira-koen... what a great neighbourhood.

    I'm in the process of buying a place myself (an OOOLLLLDDD place in Yokohama), and am arranging renovations. I'm envious of you being able to plan your own space that much. Due to the Japanese style of construction, a lot of the walls are structural and it's really hard to get a nice open layout like what you've got going.

    Good luck with it!

  2. Hi Wooly,

    Wondering if we know some common friends as I have a friend whose a web artistic director.

    Checked out your blog and it's great your documenting your experience as well. I'll post some comments.

    About your structural wall problem...are you using an architect? He or she should be able to provide some solutions that act as decorative details. Don't know if you noticed but to accomodate a loft we needed to place 2 post in the middle of the floor. One is actually part of the Kitchen counter. But I think it will work and provide a sense of delineation. just my 2 cents. Have you seen the Before-After Japanese Renovation show? They also have a magazine series for cool solutions specific to Japan.

    Good Luck. Maybe we should meet and have some beers some time.

  3. Think it looks great! I am jealous of your obviously brilliant architect. Our architect / builder is 60 years old, lives 100m down the rice paddies and drove to our house for our first brainstorm in his tractor.

    We have the 35 year loan which is a bit daunting as my hub is eleven years older than me and we still have ten years left on it after he retires at 60. My sister in NZ, who is a real estate agent, finds it hard to comprehend the 'real estate' market in Japan and the fact that we have built our house for the sole person of not moving out of it for a very long time.

    All the best with the house building. It's fun but quite stressful at the same time.

    Katy in rural Oita

    PSP - I linked to your blog because you did post your post link on the Japan forum page :)

  4. Hi Katy,
    Yes please the link to the blog.
    This is totally non-commercial and is really meant to remove the opaqueness (well a little) from the process of building your own home.

    Glad you're finding interesting.
    What's your blog address?

    I will be posting soon about japanese educational experience which has been thus far very good.


  5. Hi, your blog is awesome. I am looking at getting a place in either Tokyo or Kawasaki and was wondering how big was the plot of land you purchased? Most of the land parcels I've seen are only about 80sqm. Is that big enough to build a house as big as yours?