In the year 1987, I designed a small house in the old town of Osaka where prewar terrace houses still lined the streets and factories and warehouses were common. A two level steel structure, 2.58m wide and 16.2m depth, was inserted into the site and a courtyard was created in the middle. The flooring for the first floor was white ceramic pavement, both inside and outside, so that once opening the window fully, the interior and exterior space became integrated.
For this project, in order to minimize construction work at the site, as much as possible, the structure and other elements were prefabricated in a factory. The structure was made by placing four prefabricated rectangular frames made of I-beams, evenly spaced from the front to the back, and an underground concrete slab along with the first floor flooring, which was cast at the same time. Then, factory-made cement panels and aluminum sashes were installed as a curtain wall.
In the year 2011, after 24 years, we were commissioned once again to renovate the house. In 1987, it was originally designed for a family of six: parents with three children and one grandmother. By the time of the renovation in 2011, only the parents were living in the house. The children had already left the nest and their life style had varied.
What surprised me most by visiting the site after 24 years was that the houses on the both sides have remained the same. Despite the intense economic change the country experienced over the last 24 years, this area had barely changed. Naturally, the theme for this renovation project was to re-examine the relationship of the house with the city.
The façade, which was meant to be closed in 1987, has become open instead. There is no need to be so protective any longer in 2011. Also, how the house takes in light and wind from the courtyard reflects the context of contemporary taste. What I was most conscious of was the things that have changed and not changed with the passage of 24 years, including myself.