A symbolic podocarpus tree has lived on the site of this home for the elderly for many years, in an area slightly away from the residential spaces and therefore not seen on a daily basis. During the new construction, the tree was left in its place, and in order to strengthen the relation between humans and the tree, a new position and traffic line was created. By creating a minimal surrounding with a new round fence for the tree, the form and existence of the tree are maximized. The tree is now an active presence in daily life, and even from the interior a liveliness and sense of security can be felt from the tree, which has become the core of the home.
The location of the building is in an urban center surrounded by high buildings. Wind flows naturally through the white and flat structure, which can take in limited brightness that changes throughout the day, according to season. The large glass windows and openings were positioned intentionally depending on the position and size, leaving a blank space by setback to reduce unpleasantness, a sense of pressure, and privacy issues. Taking into account the builder’s age, we reduced the burden and risk in the life traffic line by avoiding uneven levels from the entire room to the terrace to easily expand the activity range. Simultaneously, by making the fittings with sliding doors, wind flow can be adjusted. Nursing care can also be provided and the elderly can move around easily without problems.
Fittings are necessary in life for privacy and air conditioning, etc., but become rather distracting when unneeded. By blurring the boundary of the living area without having the fittings, the boundary can be flexible depending on the purpose and season, maintaining a sense of openness. The interior is elaborated to create enjoyment, beauty, and liveliness by using strong color in the minimal space precisely because it is the place used by the elderly. Furniture and lighting equipment are designed to be functional and fit the space in consideration of the builder’s lifestyle. This house can be enjoyed by the elderly with comfort and style, but little difficulty, in an aging society and urban environment.
Project name: House with Podocarpus (Urban house for the elderly) Basic design of the project: Yasutoshi Mifune (Mifune Design Studio) Architect: Yasutoshi Mifune (Mifune Design Studio) + Toru Atarashi (Atarashi architect office) Location: Osaka city, Osaka, Japan Type: residence Site area: 627.59 sqm Building area: 319.46 sqm Structure: wooden (1 story), reinforced concrete with steel frame Exterior finish: plaster / concrete Builder: Mizokuchi construction Co., Ltd. Completed: August, 2013 Photographer: Yasunori Shimomura