Creating “Vessels for Daily Life”
Hiroyuki Yokoyama is an architect based in Kakegawa City, Shizuoka Prefecture, where he was born and raised. Yokoyama has always held an interest in the manufacturing process. However, it was only when he witnessed the process of how a building is made that he was inspired to pursue a career in architecture.
“I remember how excited I was to see the framework of a building in its original state,” he said. “But when I realized that those things were being completed and would become the streetscape, I felt that something more could be done to improve it. Urban planning is important, but I thought it would be nice if we could create architecture that could add value to the landscape.”
After working for an architectural firm, he became independent in 2013, opening his own office in Kakegawa City. In 2019 he took ownership of the land on which his parent’s house was located and set up his own residence and office in the same place he was born and raised.
“I’ve always liked my hometown. I think it has a lot of charm, with its sea, mountains, beautiful scenery, and climate. I hope we can come up with something that fits such an environment.”
Yokoyama believes that environment has a great influence on architecture.
“My base is in the countryside, so I have a lot of land to work with. In the city, people tend to build two or three-story houses to make use of a narrow slice of land, but when it comes to creating a comfortable space on a large site, one-story houses are becoming increasingly popular. A one-story house offers a sense of security because you feel close to the ground and it gives you the ability to connect with the garden and surrounding environment, including that of the people around you. It’s also important to design the house in a way that maintains privacy.”
Let’s now take a look at some of the architectural projects Yokoyama has been a part of.“Iwata Residence and Store” is a project in which the client, who runs a cake shop, wanted to relocate his business and incorporate it into the house that he was building.
“The house was originally a tea plantation, so it kind of looks like it’s just sitting there in the middle of a field. There’s nothing on the south side of the house, so I thought a lot about how the windows facing there could transfer that feeling of comfort to the inside of the house. It’s not visible from the outside, but inside the ceiling is high, around four meters. We chose and planted the plants in the garden alongside the family living there. I think that the residents have become very attached to the plants, and they now know so much about them. The residents can enjoy living in the house as the plants grow and the landscape changes.”
The “House in Okinosu” is Yokoyama’s home and office, built on the site where his parents’ house used to be.
“Located on the plot of land where my parents used to live, the surrounding houses are often surrounded by maki trees, and although the lots are large, the entrance to the houses are often the size of just one car. I wanted the house to be open to the community, so I removed all of the trees and turned it into a public garden. There is another space in the back, which also can be used as a parking lot, private garden, or for drying clothes. The office is in the front, but it surrounds the home and the public garden, and we also used steps in the house to surround the living room, creating various places for people to be. Depending on how you use the space, there are all kinds of places to be, even in a space that isn’t very big.”
This is a just completed project “Kosaka House”.
“It’s located in the mountains, in a spot that used to be a field, so it’s a really pleasant place to be. There is an earthen floor in the middle of the house and a wonderful view, so even though you are inside the house, you feel as if you are outside. The earthen floor is one level down, so it can be used as a dining room, or as space for the wife of the owner to hold her flower arrangement classes, or a place where people can gather.”
The House in Yamazaki is a two-story project.
“The family wanted a one-story house at first, but the site was too tight, so we decided to keep the advantages of a one-story house by having the private space on the second floor and connecting it to the first floor through a stairwell. This family really likes interior design, so we designed the building to be as simple as possible so that they could enjoy adding color to it as they lived there.”
Yokoyama also renovated the Yaizu satellite office of “PAPERSKY” editor-in-chief Lucas B.B. and his editor and partner, Kaori Berkow (the main visual for this article is a photo of the exterior). Lucas explains why he asked Yokoyama to work on the design:
“I wanted to work with someone from Shizuoka and so an old friend introduced me to Yokoyama. He listens very carefully to what we have to say, which was so important to us as we deliberated and discussed the project together.”
“I feel as if I’m creating a ‘vessel for living’. A house is not completed when the building is finished, but when it is lived in. I think a house is great because it’s a process of becoming a person’s home as it becomes more and more colorful. Therefore, I mainly ask them what kind of lifestyle they want to lead, rather than what kind of house they want to build. Also, I try to ask about things that they definitely don’t want to do rather than things they definitely want to do, because I can learn a lot about their way of thinking. I try to understand what they are thinking, and then I try to turn it into something tangible. From there we involve various craftsmen and others in the construction industry who help with the process of making it. Architecture is a large manufacturing process, but in the end everything we produce is made by human hands.”
The people who live there add color to this container we call a house. And the accumulation of these efforts will gradually become a part of the city’s landscape.
Born in 1982 in Kakegawa City, Shizuoka Prefecture, Yokoyama established Hiroyuki Yokoyama Architects in 2013. Based in Kakegawa City, Yokoyama designs mainly private residences, but also stores and offices.