Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 16.08.40

Built with wooden frames and light materials, the majority of Japanese homes are torn down and rebuilt from scratch once they begin to age. But one architect in Chiba had a slightly different idea…

I will make no secret of the fact that I am an enormous fan of Kirsten Dirksen‘s work. Travelling all over the world with camera in hand, the videographer and prolific YouTuber documents the lives and creative projects of individuals who seek to lead simpler, less materialistic lives more in-tune with nature. She also explores some of the coolest small—and tiny—homes the world has to offer, creating videos that showcase feats of interior design genius, be they homes on wheels or rooftop apartments whose very walls fold, extend and pop out to transform the space in a matter of seconds.

In her most recent video, Dirksen returns to Japan, home of some of the world’s quirkiest space-saving homes and a recent movement in compact prefab housing, to explore a home designed by Kazuyasu Kochi, an architect who saw an opportunity to transform a typical apartment unit in Chiba Prefecture, just east of Tokyo, into something very different.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 16.09.27

Called the Apartment House, Kochi’s design is one of renovation rather than rebuilding—something of a rarity in Japan, where entire buildings are demolished and replaced with startling frequency. The building—originally eight super-compact, one-room apartments, the like of which are seen all over Japan—had stood for a long time with many of its rooms unoccupied, so its owner had decided to pull it down. That is, until Kochi convinced them to let him redesign the building’s interior and turn it into a family home.

After removing entire walls and floors so that the space that once held the building’s centre-most apartments became the heart of the new home, Kochi set to work shaping the rooms surrounding it, all of which would either feed directly into the kitchen-cum-dining area or overlook it, using a series of quadrangles and triangles cut out of plywood. The end result, to paraphrase Kochi, is a sort of “reverse Cubism” wherein a three-dimensional space is used to create two-dimensional shapes and images when viewed from the house’s numerous nooks, corners and crannies. It’s also quite a sight to behold, and no doubt a fantastic house for the kids to grow up in.

Check out the full video here:

Perhaps Kochi’s quirky yet homey design will start a new trend in Japan and result in a few more older buildings being given a new lease of life. It seems, to this writer at least, a lot less wasteful than bringing in the bulldozers every other generation…

You can check out photos and concept sketches of Apartment House over at Kazuyasu Kochi’s website, or visit Kirsten Dirksen’s YouTube channel for more videos (including this quirky little gem also from Japan).

Source and screenshots: YouTube/Kirsten Dirksen

Now read:

Muji enters the tiny house game, showcases its line of wonderfully minimalist ‘Muji Huts’