This renovation worked around Japan’s zoning laws by using yobitsugi

Aoyagi, Japan – Call it some sort of respect for the elder: the zoning laws in the Yamagata prefecture prevented a 30-year-old house made with now-aged materials, to be demolished to make way for a new construction. Unfortunately, that was the specific location Country Market had available for its new restaurant and fresh produce station.

Good thing architect Ryusuke Nanki was a fan of yobitsugi, the traditional Japanese method of repairing damaged pottery with non-conforming parts from other ceramic objects, drawing attention to the damage as a way to celebrate uniqueness. That approach translated into a renovation project that combined what the he calls a ‘run-of-the-mill residence consisting of an unremarkable floor plan’ with a new layer that favours a colourful sense of boldness.

For example, there’s the attention-grabbing green palette that turns the new space into ‘a verdant, light-filled forest.’ Nanki cleared the first floor of the residence to create a high ceiling, and connected the ground and top floor through an open stairwell made of a combination of old and new lumber. A set of old beams, which had to be preserved due to structural matters, connect to a new countertop. The green stripes painted on the louvered entryway only become visible depending on the viewer’s vantage point, and the fresh produce – which comes directly from a nearby garden – gets an extra glow from the fluorescent lighting.

‘A renovation encompasses more than simply replacing the interior or exterior of a building with new and pristine material,’ explained the Tokyo-born architect, who is fittingly a former pupil of Shigeru Ban. ‘Rather, as this project demonstrates, renovation can also encompass an organic outgrowth based on daily discoveries over the course of construction, filled with unforeseen innovation.’

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