Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kichijoji C-House – Chapter 4 – Portrait of the Artist

We visited Sakamoto-san’s house this weekend but I unfortunately forgot my camera. It was great to view one of his finished designs. The visit also showcased the quality of builder’s work. The style was more Japanese than what we would have gone for, but we really enjoyed the quality of the materials throughout the home. After 4 hours of going through details, we discussed our contract and came to an agreement that was win-win. I’m happy to have the chance to collaborate with this award-winning designer.


In my previous post I mentioned I would profile Sakamoto-san. Here are some of the topics we discussed:

  • What inspired you to become an architect?
    When I was in my early teens our family built a new house and I was curious and interested in the entire process. I have fond memories of the carpenters who helped build our home. Looking back, I remember that I always preferred making homes out of Legos than ships or cars. I also painting and architecture provides me with lots of opportunities to sketch and draw.
  • What Japanese or foreign architects are influences or inspirations?
    Yoshinobu Ashihara and Fumihiko Maki are Japanese Architects which I greatly admire. As for foreign architects, I am inspired by the works of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies Van de Rohe.
  • You studied overseas at the reputed Pratt Institute in NY. What made you decide to study overseas?
    I wanted to have the experience of a different culture and wanted to experience NY itself. Of course learning architecture from a different perspective was also a goal. Ashihara-san who was my mentor for many years, helped guide me towards that direction.


  • What are the main 2 or 3 differences between Japan and North American Style homes?
    1. Elevated floors: This is needed in Japan for people to take off their shoes when they enter the house.
    2. Walls: Japanese homes have fewer walls but instead use sliding door to create separate spaces.
    3.Multi-function: Traditionally rooms in Japan are multi-purpose. A room can be living room during the day and bedroom at night, whereas American tend to be singular in purpose. There is a growing trend towards this in Japan.

  • What do you think is going to be greatest home design trend in the next 5~10 years?
    The first trend will toward Eco-Friendly homes. More precisely i mean homes that will use natural ventilation and water vapor cooling systems as opposed to the now current Air Conditioning Units. I also mean Solar power and Solar passive heating. But this is general direction and it’s hard to predict mass consumption. Perhaps 30? 40 years?

    The second trend is more socio-economic. Let’s face it, the population is aging. There are less children. Thus the current trend are towards home that are more durable and flexible throughout the various stages of a family’s life.
  • Have you worked with foreigners in the past?
    Yes, though not at my own practice. You are my first foreign client at ISTA.
  • What are your firms area of expertise? Institutional? Resort? Residential?
    Our main areas has been on Office Buildings then Residential homes and finally resort community areas.
  • You were part of a team that won the Good Design Award for 2009. What do you believe is the key point that brought you the award?
    I believe it was the sense of community and the relationship between the interior and exterior as well as the relationship between the homes. We had a great team of builders, architects and landscape artists. It was this great collaboration which created this fantastic result.

    ISTA Web Page

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