atspace architects transforms kyoto townhouse celadon gallery + cafe

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sokoku gallery and café by atspace architects in japan

AtSpace Architects has renovated a Kyoto style machija – traditional Japanese wooden townhouse – to house the new SOKOKU celadon gallery and coffee shop. Located at the foot of Gojozaka in Kyoto, famous for its traditional Kiyomizu ceramics, the original structure was built in the early 1900s ceramic artist Hatta Sokoku. The space initially doubled as residence for the artist and a pottery workshop with a custom built celadon kiln, and it has since been passed down from generation to generation before being recently renovated by AtSpace Architects. The redesign of SOKOKU by the Japanese architecture firm emphasizes the architectural origin of the building, which reflects its historical and regional characteristics, while creating a public gallery and café, as well as a comfortable living space for the owner.

With SOKOKU, AtSpace Architects seeks to address the deteriorating traditional form of wooden house, allow the owner to live comfortably and undisturbed, and build a new gallery and cafe to showcase Sokoku’s celadon works. “We defined each individual’s design intent as updating living functions to meet modern requirements and preserving a heritage by restoring its original style.”, Note the architects.

The gallery displays and sells Kiyomizu ceramics made by Sokoku

all images courtesy of AtSpace Architects

Preserving Kyoto’s regional and historical characteristics

The SOKOKU residential building is being renovated in a compact manner, improved thermal insulation is achieved through new inner window sashes and underfloor heating. Inside the retail space, the earth floor and porch-like porch characteristic of Kyoto-style houses have been restored. Atypical for traditional machijathe Architectural office from Kyoto places SOKOKU’s storefront further back in the building, allowing for the porch and culture Okuzashiki — Interior of a traditional Japanese house — and make the rear garden more accessible. The interior space is defined as a buffer between residential and commercial spaces to function for both festive occasions and everyday life.

In the gallery and café, AtSpace Architects filter natural light into the space through evenly spaced skylights in the distinctive smoke-vent atrium hibukuro. The soft light reflects off the adobe walls, softly illuminating the display of delicate Celadon ceramic work. Cylindrical tea towel holders are set into the mud walls as protective material, and ashtray lids are converted into wastepaper basket slots—all made from defective pieces of Sokoku celadon porcelain.

The Japanese wooden house from the 1900s is being converted into the SOKOKU Celadon Gallery + Café by atspace architects
The building enhances the streetscape with newly repaired eaves

The gallery showcases the remarkable ceramics of Sokoku

While preserving the outward appearance of the residence, the building enhances the streetscape with newly repaired and preserved eaves and latticed bay windows on the facade. AtSpace Architects replaced the damaged posts and beams with new joints and restored the crumbling adobe walls by re-weaving the bamboo backing and applying earth. In addition to facilitating future updates, SOKOKU aims to help protect the environment by recycling local resources and using building materials with a high recycling rate. The project also preserves the traditional techniques of roof tiles and clay plaster.

The architects say about the goals of SOKOKU: “We aim to create social value on a much broader scale, beyond a temporal generation and the land on which it is built.” .” The project received donations to preserve Kyoto-style public values machijaand the building was designated as a Structure of Landscape Importance after renovation in 2022.

The Japanese wooden house from the 1900s is being converted into the SOKOKU Celadon Gallery + Café by atspace architects
the cafe and Zashiki Room

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