An Earthquake Resistant, Self-Sufficient Eco Cottage By The Seaside

Who doesn’t dream of owning a seaside retreat? Sunshine, warm sandy beaches, and mellow waves crashing on the shore. It sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? One couple actually took that dream and in 2009, with the help of architects Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Co., turned it into a reality to have a seaside home of their very own. The off-grid home is located on a narrow coastal plain between the sea and the mountains of Chiba, Japan. The small family wanted a place they could go to on weekends that would provide them with a vastly different experience from their everyday lives in a high-rise apartment in Tokyo. Their dream was to spend their weekends enjoying nature gardening and connecting with each other. But an off-grid home like this one could also make a great full-time home for those who want a more permanent off-grid living arrangement.

Hiroshi Nakamura is a Tokyo born architect who studied and gained his Master’s degree from the Graduate School of Science and Technology, Meiji University, at the age of 25 in 1999. In 2002 he established Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP Co. Nakamura has won multiple awards in architecture from the Japan Institute of Architects and in 2015 won the Selected Architectural Designs award. He created House C for the small family who made only one request. They wanted their tiny home-away-from-home to be only one room so that they could feel closer when they were on vacation.

Hiroshi definitely delivered that considering that the only enclosed spaces are the bathroom and storage areas, while the rest of the house is one, big open space with two small sleeping alcoves tucked on either side of the compact living area. The entire space is only 969 square feet in size, and the floor plan will actually allow for the sleeping alcoves to be enclosed as small bedrooms if more privacy is desired at a later stage. The sliding glass walls of the tiny seaside retreat allow the owners of House C to take in the vistas of the sea in front of a view of the forested mountainside beyond, all while allowing cool breezes to blow through.

The home was built from reinforced concrete for earthquake resistance and is protected by a 2-inch layer of soil, dug from the ground, which will help against the corrosive effects of the sea air. This also helps to integrate the structure with the landscape. The family members have spent hours brushing and scraping this plaster coating to give it a varying texture so that it resembles layers of geological deposits. In the process, seashells, pebbles and other materials were exposed, making their retreat truly unique. The rooftop was covered with native grasses and wildflowers giving the house a very unusual appearance as it blends in with the natural landscape and blooms with different flowers each season. This tiny, fully functioning, self-sustainable home makes for the perfect casual seaside retreat in Japan, or anywhere else in the world. This truly is a small home with a big impact.

More about this story can be found at: Hiroshi Nakamura

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