Part of the fun in life is making new discoveries and finding things to re-purpose and breath new life into. In many ways, Somoza is a life discovery. Found sitting in the countryside of Tochigi prefecture, where it had been the faithful home and workshop to several generations of the same family. There was something undeniably intriguing and unique about this building, even though it was no longer lived in, its owner hadn’t or couldn’t forget it and each year was spending money on maintenance of its straw roof.

After finding the building, it was too hard to forget about the potential that it offered as a gallery space and as a place of discovery. Lengthy negotiations with the owner ensued, during these negotiations, the owners biggest concern was the keeping the building in one piece. Often old buildings are dismantled, and parts of them are sold off, and this was not something he wanted for a home that had been faithful to generations of his family.

A Kominka is unique when compared to other types of Japanese architecture, primary posts form the basic framework and that bear the structural load of the building; secondary posts are arranged to suit the functional arrangements of the layout. The size and finishings of a Kominka depend on the location, the climate and social status of the owner and each building has its own unique connection to the environment in which it was constructed. Often local timbers and abundant materials from the immediate area were used to build these traditional buildings.

Now Somoza is complete, it is a celebration of Japanese architecture, an “adaptive reuse” – where historical integrity has been retained while providing for new uses and modern needs.
Natural light has been harnessed throughout and used to highlight the structural and cultural elements. The enhancements go beyond mere functionalism and create a secure connection between the users and the surroundings.