A renovation project for an Asian art collector who lived in Japan. They wished to have a Japanese modern style bathroom, bedroom and a reorganisation of their art spaces. Interior finishes were primarily realised through Swiss maple and larch wood, while the  bedroom wall was finished with clay plaster using Swiss soil. Naguri floor (textured floor) and Hinoki bathtub were imported from Japan.                           

Living in harmony with the elements of nature

text by the client


Our apartment in Zurich has already united and flexibly supported three generations of our family. A renewal was urgently needed. In addition to modernization, we were thinking about a more sensible division of the space in accordance with today's needs. Together with the architects Thomas Hildebrand and Yuichi Kodai from Hildebrand Studios, Zurich, we designed the room and material concept, which was implemented in creative and high-quality interaction with the skilled workers. Our leitmotif, according to which we as residents wanted to be in natural harmony with the architecture and the raw materials taken from nature, became realizable and tangible.

The entrance area received a new aesthetic with the wooden floor, brightly kept it still fulfills the idea of an art gallery. The course and the structure of the ash flooring give warmth and dynamics to the room, which is thematically divided into two halves. The short, narrow passageway serves as the separating and at the same time connecting elements between a rest and an active zone. The square stepping stones made of Onsernone gneiss in the entrance to the apartment exemplify the relationship between interior and exterior space and, in the wooden planks, act as a haven of peace. In an imaginary line of flight of the continuous hall, one encounters the only yellow-painted door. The intensity of the yellow allows a view into a fictitious infinity.

The basic idea of giving autonomy to spaces and at the same time bringing them into a balanced relationship with the interior, intermediate, exterior, and metaphorical space is expressed in the integral design of window paneling for living rooms and bedrooms. Here, the carpenter developed sliding windows in the form of a wooden grille, which can make the room either enclosing or permeable, depending on their position. In this way, the respective change in the room also affects the perception and experience of the room. The incident light also draws a geometrically composed shadow image into the room.

The sleeping area with the bathroom was radically redesigned. Here we consciously agreed to retain the original, relatively modest area. Our desired concept was to create a place that would be completely independent and secluded from the rest of the living space. Together with Yuichi Kodai, we developed a harmonious sequence of rooms, consisting of a bedroom, changing room, and bathroom, according to the symbol of a cocoon. The core task was to enable a Japanese bathing culture, namely a division into wet and dry areas and an intimate toilet. The architect mastered the task with virtuosity by allowing space and architecture to flow into each other through an ingenious, natural sequence of materials. Entering this living area through the original Shoji sliding door with Japanese calligraphy "Bamboo" by Shotei Ibata, one is guided past the changing room to the bathroom by a slatted frame made of fine maple wood, a masterpiece of the carpenter. The built-in cupboard and toilet door open inconspicuously in the wood paneling. In the wet area, which is separated by glazed sliding panels, the heart of the room is located on the black polished coarse-grained concrete plinth, the original Japanese wooden bathtub, whose essential oil of Japanese cypress fills the room with a wonderful scent. The massive chrome steel fittings, reduced in form, also fit slimly into the wooden structure.

Opposite, the entrance leads into the Tatami bedroom, which, like the toilet, is decorated with a natural clay plaster applied by the Japanese clay builder Tatsuya Tokura. Tokura modeled the pattern of a slowly flattening wave on the wall in the bedroom, which intentionally gives the room a washed-out structure. The ceiling was covered with planks and bracing made of larch wood. The architect-designed sideboard furniture at the top of the futon was made from an old untreated trunk of red cedar.

The captivating and unifying element of this entire sequence of rooms is the continuous wooden floor of dark ash parquet flooring cut out in the Japanese Naguri technique. It holds the room elements of this intimate complex together.

The renovation of the apartment was accompanied by the rethinking of our rooms, where knowledge, culture, and mentality of us flow together. We see our home as a place where we can live in dialogue with our art objects and interact with the nature of things. We enjoy the interplay of form and material, we experience the feel and smell of the ingredients left in their raw state. The grain of the wood, the structure of the stone, the scent of the Hinoki bathtub, the natural shadows, even the dim lighting of the toilet, as well as many other details create a special atmosphere and aesthetics that are in harmony with our idea of life and the flow of time. Together with the architects and skilled workers, the redesign of the apartment into a harmonious and well-tempered retreat was successful.

IS, 2020



- Private Residence


Zurich, Switzerland


2020 Completed



Yuichi Kodai responsible for design  

and client management


Japanese Clay Wall

Tatsuya Tokura  (都倉 達弥)