Living in an urban or suburban area gives you access to all kinds of resources, activities, and jobs you just can’t find in rural settings. Most of the time, giving up the tranquility of nature is just the price you pay for the convenience of city life. But what if you didn’t have to choose? Those with abundant resources are capable of buying a city lot and building to suit, adding whatever greenery and natural features might fit. A swimming pool, perhaps, or a small vegetable garden. But how about your very own private creek? Typically, that would be asking too much, but Awazuku House by Studio Velocity is anything but typical.
The architects have created a little slice of paradise in the city by building artificial streams that curve through the property, almost making it feel like the residents live in a much greener Japanese version of Venice or Amsterdam. The placid body of water squeezes through the spaces between buildings, leaving slices of lawn for picnic benches, café tables, and beautiful blooming cherry trees. The precise edging and perfectly laid sod make it clear that it’s a man-made feature, but the effect nonetheless remains. There’s just something so relaxing about gazing out at the water from inside.
Take a glance at the photos of the warm wood-lined interiors, massive sliding glass walls, and natural daylight, and you might think to yourself, “yet another luxury home that’s unattainable for the vast majority of people on Earth.” That’s usually true with projects like this, but Awazuku House isn’t a private home — it’s a series of rental houses sharing the tranquility of this setting with a broader range of people, not just the wealthy owners. Set on the edge of the city, the complex offers a peaceful place to live with close proximity to the perks of the city.
“Four houses for rent in Koda-Cho, Nukata-gun, Aichi Prefecture, located in an area far from the city center with an impressive landscape of beautiful woodlands, temples, fields, curving paths, streams, and hedges. How could these locational elements be connected to life? At the same time, the real estate agent told us that the rental stock in this area was already saturated with regular apartments and condominiums,” the architects explain. “So, we began to conceive that we could rent out a comfortable life here, taking advantage of the rich environment, which spurred the idea of ‘lending.’”
“Lending a room — lending a building — lending with land — lending an existing well, lending a field next to the main building — supporting the farm work of the parents of the main building, then ‘renting the environment,’ which eventually led to ‘renting the environment’ including human relations. Each wing of the building has a loft, and the windows of every floor have a view of the back mountain. The height and position of each building and the direction of the roof slope are determined so that the views do not overlap with each other and interfere with the line of sight from the loft floor.”
The architects repurposed stone from an existing stone wall once piled up around the site as soil retaining walls. A pillar and beam from the home that already existed on the property has now become a series of benches along the waterways. Hedges help regulate the flow line of the water and ensure privacy. The water itself comes from the old well, which is no longer in use as potable water. Now, it’s both a beautiful visual feature and a source of emergency water supply in the case of a water shutoff.