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Studly: A Surprising Gut Remodel—with Interior Curves—By No. 555 of Tokyo

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Studly: A Surprising Gut Remodel—with Interior Curves—By No. 555 of Tokyo

March 13, 2023

The exterior of this very traditional wood-framed house in Utsunomiya, in the northern Kanto region of Japan, belies its daredevil interior. For a modern-minded young family of three who requested bright, open quarters, the architects at No. 555 in Tokyo took down all nonessential walls. And then they tossed in some curves.

There are now bare studs, translucent and curtained partitions, exposed conduit, and very few doors. Remember the industrial High Tech look of the 1970s also known as structural expressionism? Consider this an artful Japanese update of the movement.

Photography by Masatoshi Mori courtesy of No.555.

Ground Floor with Curved Partitions

formerly divided into nine rooms, the first floor is now two curved swaths with 17
Above: Formerly divided into nine rooms, the first floor is now two curved swaths with a cement board “polku,” which the architects translate as “alley,” winding between them. There’s a large kitchen-living area on one side and an “atelier” on the other. Scroll to the end to see the floor plans and the exterior of this otherwise very conventional house, which dates to the 1980s. “Basically, the existing structure was left untouched,” explains No. 555 founding architect Takuya Tsuchida. “We dismantled non-structural walls and constructed new walls to change the space. As it was, parts of the interior were unused, we wanted to enable it all.”
&#8\2\20;the design is based on the motif of the narrow path of the fields  18
Above: “The design is based on the motif of the narrow path of the fields around the house, and connects the interior to the outside” says Tsuchida. His clients are a couple, both 28, with a toddler previously lived in Tokyo and liked Tsuchida’s idea of “flexible living.”

the architects designed a steel framed table topped with the same larch plywood 19
Above: The architects designed a steel-framed table topped with the same larch plywood as the kitchen’s built-ins. The wide floor boards are pine with a white oil finish. The repeating knots on the floor, potted plants, and hanging bouquets inject the space with subtle color and signs of life.
a new open stair—japan is far less strict than the us about building cod 20
Above: A new open stair—Japan is far less strict than the US about building codes—replaced a central, more intrusive design. It has a steel frame and lauan plywood treads, and that’s the bathroom tucked under it. Source similar hanging cord light parts from the Color Cord Company.
the translucent panels on the curved partitions are polycarbonate. an existing  21
Above: The translucent panels on the curved partitions are polycarbonate. An existing metal shed outside the French doors now holds a “outside air bath” (an enclosed wash area), sauna, and storage room.
the office has a no.555 designed desk for two with ercol chairs and simple open 22
Above: The office has a No.555-designed desk for two with Ercol chairs and simple open shelving with a white cast courtesy of Osmo white wood wax.
the rooms are all finished with a water based matte paint.  in lieu of a c 23
Above: The rooms are all finished with a water-based matte paint.  In lieu of a coat closet there’s a hanging bar, which the wife also puts to use in her small business designing clothes.
the structural supports are all whitewashed and the exposed ceiling structure w 24
Above: The structural supports are all whitewashed and the exposed ceiling structure was left as is, tattooed here and there, with wood markings. The flooring is cement board, typically used as an under layer for tile: No. 555 specializes in shining a light on basic building materials.

Curtained Second Story

the architects also opened up the three bedrooms upstairs to create a big, brig 25
Above: The architects also opened up the three-bedrooms upstairs to create a big, bright space and allow for flexibility of use. The lone door encloses the upstairs toilet. A balcony runs along the front of the house; the windows were all existing.
the built in shelves are for holding rolled up futons and other bedding. 26
Above: The built-in shelves are for holding rolled up futons and other bedding.
canvas curtains section of the three bedrooms. &#8\2\20;now that the couple 27
Above: Canvas curtains section of the three bedrooms. “Now that the couple’s child is small, they use the upstairs as one large room,” says Tsuchida.”The future plan is to segment the space into a library and hobby room.”
the open railing—additional barriers have presumably since been introduc 28
Above: The open railing—additional barriers have presumably since been introduced.
the upstairs is detailed with exposed conduit and steel switch plates with flip 29
Above: The upstairs is detailed with exposed conduit and steel switch plates with flip switches.

A Glimpse of the Exterior

a shaded sitting area with benches runs along the side of the house overlooking 30
Above: A shaded sitting area with benches runs along the side of the house overlooking a field of cloaked fruit trees. That’s the converted shed (with bathing area, sauna, storage room, and stair to roof) on the left.
the former shed now holds a wash area and sauna. 31
Above: The former shed now holds a wash area and sauna.
Studly A Surprising Gut Remodelwith Interior CurvesBy No 555 of Tokyo portrait 8
Above: The exterior was left untouched. Tsuchida describes the structure as “a typical Japanese wooden house built 38 years ago.”

Floor Plans

the two curved rooms are designed to maximize use of space on the living floor  33
Above: The two curved rooms are designed to maximize use of space on the living floor and to provide natural light and outdoor views. The “alley” that winds through the two halves echoes the paths in the fields surrounding the house.
as with the ground floor, the architects removed all nonstructural walls upstai 34
Above: As with the ground floor, the architects removed all nonstructural walls upstairs to create a flexible open space, with curtained partitions. Use of the floor will evolve over time—and privacy walls may be added ahead.

We have been avidly chronicling  the work of No. 555 architecture for years. Here are some other favorite projects:

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Frequently asked questions

What is the article about?

The article is about a suburban remodel done in Tokyo which incorporates interior curves to create a playful and inviting atmosphere.

What was the inspiration for the remodel?

The inspiration for the remodel was camping and the idea of bringing the outdoors inside.

What is the style of the remodel?

The style of the remodel is modern and minimalist, with a focus on natural materials and earthy tones.

What are some unique design features in the remodel?

Some unique design features in the remodel include curved walls, a floating staircase, and a hidden door disguised as a bookshelf.

What is the color scheme of the remodel?

The color scheme of the remodel is primarily neutral, with shades of white, beige, and brown. Accents of green and blue are also present.

Who designed the remodel?

The remodel was designed by architect Takashi Yanai of the firm Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects.

What is the overall feel of the remodel?

The overall feel of the remodel is warm, inviting, and playful, with a focus on natural elements and a connection to the outdoors.

What is the location of the remodel?

The remodel is located in a suburban area of Tokyo, Japan.

What are some challenges the architects faced during the remodel?

Some challenges the architects faced during the remodel included working with a small lot size, incorporating curved walls and spaces, and creating a sense of privacy and seclusion in a suburban setting.

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