nottuo Home Studio – Mountain Single-Story House Renovation


We fully renovated a 40-year-old wooden single-story house next to nottuo’s head office using our in-house design.

This house, where our representative, Mr. Suzuki, has lived for 11 years since moving to Nishi-Awakura, was newly built by the previous owner after retirement. Given that the owner’s wife was a tea ceremony teacher, the house featured hand-carved wooden joints, bamboo lattice walls, and a tea room, embodying materials and construction methods that are rarely seen in modern homes.

Despite its solid old construction, the house showed signs of age with gaps in the walls and damaged floors after 30 years of being built and 10 more years of use. Improving the living environment in the harsh winters of Nishi-Awakura directly contributes to QOL enhancement. Thus, we decided to conduct a full renovation as an experimental stage for wooden house renovation at nottuo.

Old Things Have Charm

Aging brings a natural patina that human hands cannot replicate, creating a unique beauty. In this renovation of the old wooden house, we aimed to maximize the charm that natural materials like wood, earth, and stone acquire over time, while also enhancing the comfort of the living space by boldly dividing it into two distinct areas.

One space retains the old elements, showcasing what was previously hidden but compromising on insulation. The other space is a completely new studio centered around the kitchen, with high airtightness and insulation, enhancing the so-called housing performance.

By clearly separating the quality of the spaces, we created a dramatic change from old to new with just one door, a unique spatial composition possible only in a renovated old house, showcasing the charm of renovation.

Additionally, giving up insulation in Nishi-Awakura is a challenging endeavor, but considering cost, design, and lifestyle balance, we believe it aligns with the concept of ‘three-way satisfaction.’ However, living in the uninsulated section requires a mindset of treating it as partially outdoor, especially given the heat in summer and cold in winter. This insight is similar to what we learned from Tadao Ando’s iconic design of “Sumiyoshi Row House,” where the perceived inconvenience from an outsider’s perspective differs from the residents’ satisfaction.

Changing from the Countryside with Design

Another reason for renovating my own home was to embody nottuo’s purpose and vision of “changing from the countryside with design.”

In rural areas rich in history, culture, and materials, the only notable challenge is the lack of choices. Thus, we at nottuo see our role as creating more options through the power of design. This is why we not only engage in client work but also undertake projects like Drill Project and run a confectionery shop to proactively increase choices and options in the local area.

Focusing on “living” this time and fully renovating my own house also served as a pilot test for the potential use of the approximately 2.4 million wooden detached houses across the country.*
*2018 Housing and Land Survey (Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications)

We are not against new houses, but we wanted to prove that we could transform Japan’s numerous vacant houses into livable, desirable spaces through design.

From the newly constructed wood deck, you can overlook the terraced rice fields of the settlement, feel the seasonal changes with spring rice planting and autumn harvesting, and at night, enjoy the starry sky while listening to the sounds of insects. Urban areas have their own richness, but rural areas have a different kind of richness that cities lack. We, based in the countryside, know this charm and wanted to create a space that maximizes this value, highlighting the potential of rural areas.

Recently, when a client CEO visited the newly completed home studio, they praised, “This deck is amazing!” Hearing that made me incredibly happy and felt like the greatest reward for this project.

Having created a place where people can feel the beauty of the scenery and the time flow here, I feel that we have successfully fulfilled our role.

We have a promise to have a bonfire here next month, and I am already looking forward to that day.