we strive to relocate or reuse traditional buildings to salvage them from demolition



Heritage buildings

unbelievable! gorgeous temple looking for adoption

I am not sure if it is sad news or happy news,
…but yes! we can definitely turn it into a 100%  happy news!

An old temple (called Josen-ji) located in Kameyama (Aichi prefecture) will be demolished in early 2024.
The building is said to be at least 150 years old (but judging from the photos I think even more)

The elegant noyane (double roof) slanted iri-moya roof (a mix between hip roof and gable roof) is finished with the “hongawara” roof tiles which means that there are 2 separate parts, one for the concave and one for the convex components.

The size of the hon-do (main hall) is about 11m x 11m + external corridor.

It seems unbelievable, but they are also going to demolish and dump the gorgeous gold plated altar and massive scuptured ranma panels (;゚Д゚)!

See photos below. Also you can access the google drive below for more photos. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1AEYzGB0nBRIv74tMXFIy2VUOA7bb_Nux?usp=sharing

I still haven`t been on site. It seems like there is still plenty of time (before january 2024) to evaluate the possibility of transfering the building to save it.
Said that, the owner already has a quotation from a local demolition company (to just tear it down and clear the lot) and I am afraid that some penny-wise local interests may dictate the destiny of the precious building.

For this reason, (also considering past bitter experiences) I intend to proactively plan ahead a solution to carefully dismantle, transport and rebuild the temple in a location where it can be appreciated.

I would be grateful for any insight you may have.
Please do not contact me for picking up just some materials or spare parts: I am looking for a party who is willing to adopt the building in its entirety.

I asked a specialized company to visit the site and provide a quotation for the disasembling work and I will post here updates as soon as available.
It will be a rough evaluation, but I will also try to estimate how many containers are needed.

The idea is that for the rebuilding work, my carpenter can go on-site (also if overseas) to coordinate the reconstruction and instruct local craftsmen. In any case, the “foster family” needs to have clear ideas about how to finance the project, clear local building department filings, and supply the land and local construction company to handle the nitty-gritty of the project.

Or course, I remain available for any question or comment.

Best//

iacopo

 HERE➡

google map location PIN is here:
https://www.google.com/maps/@34.8046884,136.9171596,109m/data=!3m1!1e3

UPDATE 2022.march.28

Cost of demolition of the temple:
12 million Yen + 10% VAT
This quotation does not consider reusing of roof tiles.
I think reusing is better (also considering that for relocation out of Japan, it would be necessary to import roof tiles anyway) so the cost would increase (rough estimate = +2.5 million JPY)

Cost of rebuilding in Japan (as a reference):
scaffolding and temp. const. 500,000 JPY
foundations 2,500,000 JPY
timber frame (including new material 22,500,000 JPY
roof 15,000,000 JPY
plasterworks 3,000,000 JPY
paintworks 700,000 JPY
electricity and various 1,300,000 JPY

-> total 45,500,000 JPY + sales tax 10%
Of course, in the case of rebuilding overseas, the cost will need to be re-estimated.
We would be able to supply craftsmen to instruct local companies as needed.

Cost of transportation, import procedures, etc. to be determined.

Please let me know if you are interested so I can look into the feasibility of the project.




S.O.S. 100year young “ko-minka” traditional house looking for adoption

I received this SOS from a friend living in Hofu City, Yamaguchi prefecture.

Her 300 m2 traditional house with a beautiful roof and the refined interior are going to be demolished to make space for a new condominium.😢

I still have to obtain details. but it seems like the site must be cleared by the beginning of March 2022 so the dismantling work should start at the beginning of February.

Time is very tight and just to obtain a quotation (for the dismantling work) I will need to invest time and money to go on-site with a carpenter to evaluate the costs.

Anyway, If some of the “japan lovers” within the Bartok design community show interest in this option, I will teleport myself on site asap.

Please let me know.

Judging from the pictures, roof tiles are really stunning and very well preserved same as the tatami rooms with all the high quality details such as “ajiro” ceiling, hand blown glass, yukimi shoji, tokonoma details etc.

The kitchen area is quite spartan and the stainless steel sink are of course not original.
In case of a reconstruction, it would be nice to implement a “kamado” type of kitchen!

and maybe an “irori” to sit around the fire and during tea or maybe “atsukan” sake!

The bathroom also does not look very comfortable and the materials do not belong to the original plant.
Perfect space for a new hinoki bathtub + plenty of room for every other amenity you could wish for fitness or wellbeing.

The cost of the building itself is zero (free) for the art lover willing to help preserve the memory of glorious japanese residential architecture.

The cost for dismantling would be somewhere around 60-70,000 USD (ballpark value) and 30-40,000 USD for shipping (depends where). Cost of rebuilding depends on local conditions and how local craftsmen can be supportive. Of course we can supply carpenters that can coordinate reconstruction and train local workers.

I can obtain quotes but it takes time so I decided to start with the announcement.

google map location PIN is here:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/2-ch%C5%8Dme-7-40+Ebisumachi,+Hofu,+Yamaguchi+747-0036/@34.0589881,131.5692087,47m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x354492f2fa675cd5:0x2dfb05a8341282ab!8m2!3d34.0590267!4d131.5692207

and 50 photos are here:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1R_UH-lYbl3pLnFlL-jj7CKb_Ray1k7Os?usp=sharing

Please contact me asap if interested.


UPDATE 1/11:

Thank you everybody for your lovely emails!

I did receive a lot of feedback (23 emails) and kudos, out of which 3 people are making some practical considerations about this possibility.

Here are some replies to common questions:

1) There is no restriction to export the construction material of the house (artistic properties preservation etc.).
Actually, the toughest filing at the time of export is to prove that we are not sending industrial waste to some other country for landfill… but it is actually construction material (even if second hand…).
This gives you a hint of the consideration that is given to historical buildings in Japan…

2) It will be necessary to verify the building standards in the place of reconstruction because the building is timber frame and not fireproof.

3) The roof tiles are quite recent (maybe 30-40 years old) but are nicely hand made

4) I do not have a dimensioned drawing but you can scale the plan above considering that one tatami is roughly 6′ x 3′. Also as a reference, the present site (which does not have much of room for the garden) is about 43 x 21m. See below:

Update 1/25:

The story had an unexpected development.

A contractor from Fukuoka who had been in touch in the past with the owner, suddenly come back and offered to dismantle the house and rebuild it in Fukuoka prefecture.

This came out of the blue while a person from NZ that was introduced to me was considering it very seriously the project. My contact had experience with this type of project as already transferred minka from Gifu prefecture to Hawai years ago.

After all this effort and “crying wolf” and mobilizing people all over the world, I have to confess that this epilogue was quite irritating. And I know that Japanese companies tend to dump the roof tiles, ceiling materials, flooring, and tatami.

On the other hand, the schedule is really very tight and if my plan could not be deployed for some reason (financial, permits, timing etc.) the house would have been lost completely.

For this reason, re-thinking this story from a different angle, I think that the fact that the Hofu kominka is going to remain in existence is the most important point. How and where is kind of secondary.

Of course, it is ideal that those buildings stay in their environment (also considering in many cases they have beautiful retaining walls, gardens etc. that cannot be moved)

But if they have to be demolished or transferred, I think that moving them abroad – besides being a way to preserve and valorize them – would also have a greater impact on the public opinion and contribute to raising public awareness on the traditional buildings conservation issue.




Kameoka ready for test start

Following all the talks in April and May, we are finally ready to start with the enrollment of students interested in learning the traditional japanese wood construction crafts!!!

We are starting a new renovation project and are ready to enroll students.
Officially we are aiming at July 1st but if you are planning to come to Japan in June, we are basically ready to welcome you anytime.

The students will both the taught the principles of the craft and will also have the possibility of working in the actual construction site.
It will be an experimental phase with the following conditions:

(more…)

update about the Wakayama project

Thank you again for the smart ideas and the kind support about the project of infusing new functions in the Kiwata-house in Wakayama.

Last month I presented the conceptand we are now discussing on how to implement it. Apologizing for the delay in getting back to you, let me summarize the main points.

The first chart exemplifies the structure of the project.
Striking a parallel with the cycles in agriculture:
*rooting = 5 basic ideas I illustrated in the mailing message
*seeding = based on the (biased) opinions of all of you who replied I selected some concepts and lines of intervention
*watering = many of you gave me great indications for the overall branding
*growing = some ideas about the promotion and management
*reaping = goals to be fine-tuned, reached and further developed.

In the PDF (see below) I am also including a selection from the comments I received from all of you.

The second table is a tentative plan of the house with come ideas about functions that can be hosted and their interrelations.
You can download the whole pdf here, inclusive of all your comments.

The concept that stuck me the most are:
ONE DAY IN LIFE:
* the house provides the experience of “just a normal day in prewar Japan”
* second meaning: one day in the life of each visitor. We want to leave a memory that can entangle with and become part of their personal story-roll.

TOTALLY TRADITIONAL – TOTALLY CONTEMPORARY:
* the house is historical and original therefore should not be faked. Any addition or modification should be in harmony but cutting edge.

MUSEUM OUTREACH / COLLABORATION
* we should explore the possibility of operating in connection with a famous museum. This could widen the scope of the project and hopefully make it become a model for other beautiful houses in Japan that could be rescued and preserved.

This is all for now.
We have more meetings coming up this month and I will keep you updated on the solution that the owners chose and about the next steps of the project.

Thank you!!

iacopo


The Nara Garden

As you know, there is nothing more soul-destroying for us here at Bartok design than to see old Japanese homes and gardens destroyed in the name of blind speculation. From time to time we hear about the impending doom before it happens, as in the case of this spectacular garden in Nara prefecture (east of Osaka).

A person I know that empties old houses has to throw away this garden in Nara…

We’ve been given the opportunity to share these pictures and we hope that with will be able to re-home some of the ornaments or even some of the plants.

We cannot say for sure how old these items are but we hope to bring more information to you soon. If you are interested in being kept in the loop please contact me via email (urgently) japan(at)bartokdesign.com

(more…)

MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA

We are deepening our relation and collaboration with the kimono designer Yoshio Jogan.
Jogan sensei is based in Kyoto and went through the long and steep path of mastering traditional kimono patterns since his youth.
But he believes that Art must always be in movement and the worship of a mummified tradition is not going to keep the Art alive.

Jogan sensei is a master in bridging the subtle traditional knowhow of kimono patterning into interior design, contemporary products and computer art. We will talk more about Jogan sensei in the next few weeks, but here I would like to anticipate a news that is also going to impact our Wakayama pre-war mansion re-branding project.

(more…)

a house for the arts – idea competition

Finally, my prayers seem to have reached some sensible ears up in Heaven…!

An enlightened owner inherited a high grade and extremely well preserved house in Wakayama. The house is a 1,400㎡ (mostly 1 story, 2 rooms on the upper floor) timber frame house on a 3,100㎡ lot.

K-house is relatively new (1940) but being pre-war, it belongs to a sensibility, culture of material and aesthetic sense that unfortunately is now lost and unknown to post war architecture.

I am not being nostalgic: it is an evaluation based on the virtue of the design elements: knowledgeable but with a scent of fantasy.
If you look at the photos below (↓) you will agree that the sukiya-zukuri style in the Taisho and early Showa period is probably the highest point reached by Japanese architecture. The materials are selected with respect for their features. There is wit and irony. Nature mingles with architecture and even penetrates it as branches become railings and full moons become windows.

(more…)

Rebuild the Matsuguchi house?

It finally happened.
After demolishing the elegant and flawless 90 years old Early Showa period house, the sign of the real estate company appeared inesorably on the site.
(In the early days, I asked 4 real estate companies I know, but nobody had a clue of who purchased the property)
They are going to split the 200 square meters lot in 2 and build prefabricated houses.
I cannot dare to imagine what will happen to the nice retaining wall and the natural poll where pristine water from Suwayama, the mount dedicated to Venus can be scooped up as needed.

Are you interested in buying land in Kobe?
Is owning a vacation house in Japan your long caressed dream?
If so I can build it for you! My architectural services will be for free. This is the only humble contribution I can put on the table to save this charming property from the cancer who is eating out all japanese territory.
I have to face that the gem that was the Matsuguchi-house is gone. But I cannot accept that the best will be replaced by the worst!
To use the words of Cicero: “corruptio optimi pessima” = the corruption of the best is the worst of all…

I salvaged almost 80% of the windows and the interior doors of the old house: my dream would be to rebuild the house using traditional techniques and reusing the original doors, stair railing, stone lantern, post box etc!


check other photos here

Also the symbolic gesture of being more affirmative than the scrap and build culture, winning over the blind speculation would have a tremendous value.
Am I just a dreaming idealist?
Is there somebody out that is interested in resurrecting the Matsuguchi house? Even stronger and more convenient than before?
Of course we could upgrade it with a hinoki bathtub! Overlooking the stone wall and with the lantern and the moss garden!
Please let me know.

The real estate agent is asking 82 million JPY for the land.
Building a house in timberframe costs about 300,000 JPY per square meter so rebuilding the original house would require about 48 million JPY.
But of course fancy features would add to the cost.

In the link below is a site survey and a zoning plan.
DOC181130-20181130092500
The area is located just uphill from Motomachi and the Prefercural office area and was from the past an exclusive residential area.
The white condominium on the north side was actually built on the site of the former residence of Kimura Haruo, first major of the city of Ashiya.



Click the image above to jump to the street view

The real estate agent has an agreement with a builder and they are planning to have the plans approved by mid december.
Of course, the more they go ahead with their plan, the more it will be expensive to buy the land out.
So if you fell in love with this building (and you have the financial resources to bring it back to life) please contact me as soon as possible.

If you did not see the photos of the interior of the original house you can have a sample here:

-> october 25th blog post


-> facebook post

Keeping my fingers crossed…

slaughter of a delicious house in Kobe


I cannot sleep. I just want to cry. I can`t forgive.

In a central area of Kobe they started to demolish a beautiful traditional house.
Along a high traffic street but screened by green, it was a 2 story house with traditional ibushi roof tiles.
It was my favourite, I saw it almost every day. 5 years ago, the old building to the right was demolished and replaced by a tasteless, plasticky prefabricated house. But the beautiful old house remained and the contrast between the smart and refined house and the new unbalanced and basic new house was even more striking.

I always wanted to look inside. But there is no place to park the car, besides I figured it was occupied by an elderly person and I imagined they would have felt scared to see a stranger (and caucasian foreigner…) at their door.

But if I went I could have known their plan, maybe I could make an offer to rent or buy the house.
But everything was so abrupt I just could not take any action.
The greens were manicured until the last day, there was no sign that the propery was abandoned or was on sale.
In my optimistic mindset I just could not conceive that somebody may decide to demolish that beauty.
But the same thing happened 5 years ago with the house to the right. I should have been realistic.
At 46 years old I should have the power of judgement to risk hedge. But now I can just cry on the spilled milk.
I really cannot forgive (myself)

It is a real shame.
There is nothing I can do to stop this slaughter. No time to think what are the options.
Therefore I asked the demolition company if I could take the nice entrance door and maybe even the stone lantern.
The guy was friendly and said “take everything home!”
I called my handiman Israeli friend who has a small truck and we started to load windows and doors.
He was repeating “don`t be greedy…” but all pieces were just so beautiful, so unique that we ended up bringing back 3 loads. Maybe 30 or 40 fixtures and one stone lantern.
I do not have a place to keep this material but will figure out.
Maybe I can share some with the japan lovers in the bartok design community.
My dream at the present is to buy that land and rebuild the same house and reuse the parts I could salvage.

The house was splendid but its compact and airy layout, the smart use of the inner space and its balance with the garden is a example of what architecture should be.

In the back garden, a beautiful stone retaining wall protects the privacy and becomes the magic landscape that could be seen from the north side room. A tiny moss garden with a grand stone lantern. And there was even a little cave, not really a well but a natural small pond of about 2 feet x 2 feet of pristine water coming from the Rokko mountain. I am sure it was used for the tea ceremony.
The stone lantern is very old and has the symbols of the 12 animals of the chinese zodiac. This one already has a buyer. An antique shop bought it for 10,000 dollars. But I think this space in its perfect balance is worth 10 millions…

I hope the people who will buy the land will understand this and will create a beautiful and sensitive house, even better than the previous one. I am in tears not just because this house was pictoresque, of cute, or nostalgic. The real value of this house it that it was very well thought. The builder understood the environment and created a perfect match. Respectful but dynamic. Simple but artistic. Pure intelligence.

I am praying that this sacrifice will not be in vain.

House for sale in Osaka

5ACBC30D-

A japanese friend is selling his house in southern Osaka and since it is equipped with a nice hinoki bathtub, I decided to call it out here, in case somebody in interested.

It is remote that users of this site may be considering purchasing of real estate in Japan, but who knows! Also note that this is not a heritage building but a full featured 3 story family house with 2 cars garage.

asking price: 42.8 million yen

year built: 2001, december

structure: timber (post and beam)

floor area: 148.22m² (3 story, 4LDK)

land area: 166.81m²

23E943E0-

You can find more information and photos here:

http://win-jyuken.jp/?post_type=fudo&p=4272&shu=1202&ros=592&eki=6508&ken=00&sik=0&kalc=0&kahc=0&kalb=0&kahb=0&hof=0&tik=0&mel=0&meh=0

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