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The Cathedral Hallway House

The Cathedral Hallway House


Weaving the subtle beauty of the sky & natural light into the spatial experiences of the house: That was the design concept.

A new modern house inside the exterior shell of a 90+ year old wooden house (machiya)  on a flag lot in a densely built-up residential neighborhood near Toji temple in Kyoto. It is a new home for the owner's family of four including two children.

Having been unoccupied for over a decade, the existing machiya was in worn-out condition. The downstairs was extremely dark even during the daytime. The existing stale Japanese style interior did not suit the client’s lifestyle, either.


The entire existing house was hollowed out on the inside, leaving some essential structural posts & beams only. Then new slab-on-grade concrete foundation was poured. 

On the first floor, high-strength narrow shear walls are placed dispersedly according to the new open floor plan that features a small courtyard garden (tsuboniwa) in the back. The open floor plan offers views of the tsuboniwa from nearly every corner.

The second floor, formerly a single large traditional tatami room with sliding paper partitions, was remodeled into a modern sleeping quarter composed of bedrooms, a shower room, a toilet room, and an inner hallway. Those rooms’ partition walls enhance the house’s seismic resistance. The new vault ceiling exposes the existing log roof beams that run across the inner hallway and the master bedroom.


The new high gable window provides the upstairs' inner hallway with a view of the northern sky along with ample natural light, producing an uplifting quality. Hence the nickname of "Cathedral Hallway."


This inner "cathedral" hallway has turned out to be our client's best favorite space in the house. 

​(All photos by Kei Sugino, unless otherwise noted)


Wood-framed House

(Full Renovation)


Kyoto, Japan


107 sqm



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