Today, the numbers of abandoned vacant houses are increasing all over Japan, causing major social concern. Unoccupied houses deteriorate rapidly and degrade the image and value of the area. It is also crucial for crime and disaster prevention, since abandoned houses can induce criminal activity more often than well-kept properties, and collapse in case of an earthquake and block evacuation routes.
Yamashita gave seminars on traditional houses in Keio University starting from 2005 and since then, Tekuto has sought for ways to utilize those houses as regional resources, which would otherwise become unfavorable legacies if not taken care of.
Tekuto Renovation Project
Ethiopia Millennium Pavillion (2009)
To commemorate the Ethiopian Millennium, the Embassy of Japan in Ethiopia asked us to create a pavilion that symbolizes our cultural exchanges. We started our design by focusing on both country’s traditional houses.
Ethiopian circular houses are consisted of simple stone walls and wooden roofs with tied joints. Traditional Japanese houses were built meticulously with wood, without using metal parts. We brought over an old Japanese house to Ethiopia and reassembled it side by side with an Ethiopian house. By reconstructing our traditional values, we believe the two cultures were able to come face to face at this pavilion.
Tekuto Renovation Project (Japan)
Meanwhile in Japan, TEKUTO began working on traditional residential buildings. In Shimane Prefecture, we dismantled the main structure of two traditional storehouses dating back to the Taisho Era (1912-26), that were about to be demolished. The parts were then brought to Hayama, in Kanagawa Prefecture, and reassembled on site. Wooden boards salvaged from the storehouses and 80-year-old bricks from Shanghai were reused for doors, window frames, and floors. Various materials from other regions, even from another country, old and new, were brought together and restructured in this new building.
By reconstructing an old house, the texture and the mood of traditional Japanese houses were revived in this modern house. An unprecedented sense of time and space came to birth.