in nagoya, the largest city in the chūbu region of japan, architectural duo nanometer has transformed a 49-year-old rental condominium, into their private residence. the original structure included three large japanese-style rooms, showcasing a distinctive exposed concrete materiality. forming a reimagined ‘osetu-ma’ japanese reception room, as well as a ‘tokono-ma’ japanese alcove, the refurbishment generates a new layout that accommodates the couple, while reconsidering the relationship between these two ‘ma’ (negative/empty spaces).
all images by tololo studio
before nanometer architecture’s interventions, the property comprised a western-style room, an ‘LDK’ (living, dining, kitchen), and a room clad with exposed concrete. the project started taking shape as a tiny flat renovation, with the couple originally using it as an office and house. when the architects started to rent office space in another location, the condominium lost its function as an office, devaluing it as just storage. the room was then altered to serve as a gathering space, or as an ‘osetsu-ma’ reception space, as the design team describes.
the living environment was renovated step by step, while the architects were living within it as residents. first, the carpet was replaced with tatami, in order to host a larger number of visitors. in addition, a staggered shelf with light-gauge steels was installed, along with a shoe closet for the ‘tokono-ma’ at the entrance. finally, the kitchen was equipped with an open counter, to be able to accommodate more guests easily.
through these modifications, the ‘exposed concrete’ room turned itself into the entire house as an ‘osetsu-house’, or ‘reception-house’. usually, the name ‘osetsu-ma’ describes a common space that is restricted in the unit of a room. however, here, the architects have redefined the entire house as an ‘osetsu-house’. ‘it allows us to feel that we are exposing ourselves to the public and tangibly regaining small fractions of the public in our hands,’ shares the nanometer team. ‘ it teaches us about the relationships among people and the richness of life responding to the seasons and guests visiting’ the architects add.