Tradition meets normcore in Schemata’s newest mixed space

Kanagawa, Japan – One of the traditional houses of a residential district in Kamakura is not as it appears. The 80-year-old dwelling, located right outside the capital, is rich in Japanese architectural details: there are tatami straw mats throughout, with fusuma sliding wood-framed paper doors that meet a lush garden. And then, with the precise use of grey and contemporary materials, it becomes a beautiful architectural embodiment of normcore irreverence. But most importantly – and unexpectedly, given its location and typology – it is a shared living and working space.

That’s the work of local studio Schemata Architects, who wondered if the design of a space could guide the way its inhabitants interact with it. The building’s many functions require that spaces intended for living feel and appear different from the distraction of nearby work activities, while within the workspace common rooms and desk-specific areas are designed differently.

The studio created spatial diversity by manipulating heights and using different floor coverings – such as the straw mats, pressboard and earthen floor – to separate a space’s function and the behavior intended within it. Schemata also chose to pull back the wall finishing in some areas, exposing the substructure of the building’s bones. The topography and finishing of the spaces clearly signals to the human body that it is entering a different area of function.

Large-form windows allow the outside garden in, infusing the space with colour, texture and light. This speckling of nature views plays off the space’s more contemporary elements: as a method for creating consistency among the variations, Schemata installed technical office furniture and used pressboard throughout the working areas. Storage is created with the repeated use of grey plastic containers stacked in shelves beside the desks. Cloaked in an irreverent anti-style, the grey furniture is placed in opposition to the organic and traditional – and yet, this infiltration of normcore styling only further elevates the elegance of the building’s natural state.

It is a hybrid of work and space, the organic and the non-organic, as the warmth of the building’s history textures the walls, while the technical furniture and accessories contemporise the environment.

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