Innovative new renovation style creates the most spacious apartments Japan has ever seen. 

As Japan’s birthrate plummets and the country’s population of retired seniors soars, towns and regions outside of big city centres are quickly becoming less populated, prompting local groups and corporations to come up with creative solutions to help deal with the issue.

Osaka Prefectural Housing Corporation recently won a Good Design Award for their innovative idea to renovate two empty apartments and combine them into one huge living space, solving the problem of empty dwellings while providing renters and/or buyers with some of the biggest and most unusual apartments you’ll find in Japan.

The renovation project is being dubbed “Nikoichi“, which literally means “combining the working parts of two or more broken machines to make one functioning machine”, but in this case, there’s a play on words where two dwellings (which can be read as “niko“) become one (ichi).

▼ This floor plan shows two apartments with their adjoining wall removed to create one huge apartment.

The Nikoichi renovation allows for a variety of layouts, depending on the style of building being renovated. These floor plans show how two 45-square-metre (484-square-foot) apartments can be transformed to create a spacious 90-square-metre apartment.

90-square-metre apartments are virtually unheard of in Japan, and taking a look at some of the photos of the renovated space show living areas that are the stuff of dreams for most regular Japanese people.

▼ The Nikoichi project aims to create a “Soho-style” living space for their customers.

It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved, particularly when people in Japan are used to living in cramped spaces, where it’s not unusual for a family of four to live in a two-bedroom, 50-square-metre (538-square-foot) apartment.

With so many different rooms, different generations of family members can now live comfortably in the same quarters, which is usually difficult for families living in apartments.

We spoke to Osaka Prefectural Housing Corporation’s management division to find out more about the Nikoichi project, and they told us the following:

“We began the renovation project in Senboku New Town, an area in Chayamadai, located in the Minami Ward of Sakai in Osaka Prefecture, as this region showed a rapidly declining birthrate and aging population.

We saw that while the number of vacant houses and dilapidated buildings and facilities were rapidly rising, there was a lack of suitable housing aimed at young people.

The Nikoichi Project commenced in 2015 as a way to help solve the issue. By doubling the size of an apartment, the new dwelling can be proposed as a new form of housing for people with children or couples who want to start a family together.”

By the look of the apartments on offer, the Nikoichi project is sure to gather interest from a wide range of people, especially those commuting to Osaka city, which is less than an hour away by train from the Chayamadai area.

The company also has projects underway in Osaka’s Neyagawa City, and is looking to expand in future, so be sure to check them out of you’re looking for a spacious place to live. And if you’re looking for a free home in rural Japan, check out these awesome housing schemes, which can have you owning your own home in Tokyo in 22 years.

Images: Nikoichi 
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