lifestyle

Depopulation in Japan leads company to renovate two apartments into one huge living space

23 Comments
By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

As Japan’s birthrate plummets and the country’s population of retired seniors soars, towns and regions outside of big city centers are quickly becoming less populated, prompting local groups and corporations to come up with creative solutions to help deal with the issue.

Osaka Prefectural Housing Corporation recently won a Good Design Award for their innovative idea to renovate two empty apartments and combine them into one huge living space, solving the problem of empty dwellings while providing renters and/or buyers with some of the biggest and most unusual apartments you’ll find in Japan.

The renovation project is being dubbed “Nikoichi“, which literally means “combining the working parts of two or more broken machines to make one functioning machine”, but in this case, there’s a play on words where two dwellings (which can be read as “niko“) become one (ichi).

▼ This floor plan shows two apartments with their adjoining wall removed to create one huge apartment.

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The Nikoichi renovation allows for a variety of layouts, depending on the style of building being renovated. These floor plans show how two 45-square-meter apartments can be transformed to create a spacious 90-square-meter apartment.

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Ninety-square-meter apartments are virtually unheard of in Japan, and taking a look at some of the photos of the renovated space show living areas that are the stuff of dreams for most regular Japanese people.

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▼ The Nikoichi project aims to create a “Soho-style” living space for their customers.

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It's a win-win situation for everyone involved, particularly when people in Japan are used to living in cramped spaces, where it’s not unusual for a family of four to live in a two-bedroom, 50-square-meter apartment.

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With so many different rooms, different generations of family members can now live comfortably in the same quarters, which is usually difficult for families living in apartments.

We spoke to Osaka Prefectural Housing Corporation’s management division to find out more about the Nikoichi project, and they told us the following:

“We began the renovation project in Senboku New Town, an area in Chayamadai, located in the Minami Ward of Sakai in Osaka Prefecture, as this region showed a rapidly declining birthrate and aging population. We saw that while the number of vacant houses and dilapidated buildings and facilities were rapidly rising, there was a lack of suitable housing aimed at young people.

"The Nikoichi Project commenced in 2015 as a way to help solve the issue. By doubling the size of an apartment, the new dwelling can be proposed as a new form of housing for people with children or couples who want to start a family together.”

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By the look of the apartments on offer, the Nikoichi project is sure to gather interest from a wide range of people, especially those commuting to Osaka city, which is less than an hour away by train from the Chayamadai area.

The company also has projects underway in Osaka’s Neyagawa City, and is looking to expand in future, so be sure to check them out of you’re looking for a spacious place to live. And if you’re looking for a free home in rural Japan, check out these awesome housing schemes, which can have you owning your own home in Tokyo in 22 years.

Images: Nikoichi 

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese architect turns eight one-room apartments into quirky Cubism-inspired family home【Video】

-- Real-life Evangelion apartment in Japan is ultra-cheap, ultra-anime【Photos】

-- Thousands oppose Osaka Metro’s plan to change major stations in giant boats and fabric swatches

© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

23 Comments
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Great idea, but you have to wonder about the wisdom of renovating two apartments into one, in buildings which could potentially require substantial earthquake strengthening and ballooning maintenance costs.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Sounds like a great thing to do. Only if cost of buying or renting is not expensive.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I've seen a couple of progressive renos in my area, whereas in the past, I'd see none at all.

Rooftops, for example, have enormous potential as verandas, etc. yet so often all that space in wasted, even in space constricted areas.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This is public housing, so the taxpayer is paying for the renos. Probably the national taxpayer.

With so many different rooms, different generations of family members can now live comfortably in the same quarters, which is usually difficult for families living in apartments.

The illustrated layouts are all two bedroom, with an open plan LDK. They don't have "many different rooms". I think it would make more sense to make them three bedroom. That's if they want to put families in them. Some people have two kids or one child and an elderly parent to care for.

Given the age of the buildings, single pane windows and no insulation may be a given.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Innovative idea?

I had this idea 20 years ago.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I had this idea 20 years ago.

Ideas + inaction = irrelevance

7 ( +9 / -2 )

And the price?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

When the size of an apartment "nikos" then the price often does, too. No mention of that in the article at all. That's fine if money doesn't mean anything to you.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@Strangerland

Ideas + inaction = irrelevance=more time to drink beer=more ideas

2 ( +4 / -2 )

A good illustration of one of the many positive effects of a falling population - in general, if managed by pogressive 'leaders' can result in many opporunities to increase quality of life in Japan.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Innovative idea?

> I had this idea 20 years ago.

same here. I often wondered why they didn't do that earlier.. but better late than never I suppose.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The pictures in this article are all CAD simulations, not actual photos. So they are just architects' visions. I guess Japanese people must be so used to it they don't notice, but they all have very small kitchens with no storage. I get the impression that we are supposed to wow at the roominess and aesthetically pleasing open space without thinking of practicalities like how much counter is left once even basic things like a rice cooker and microwave have been set up. If you have 90 square meters to play with, a kitchen of that size is very poor.

Its public housing, so they'll be at below market rents.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

360 exposed to the weather. Expensive utility bills. Where do you put your dishes and where do you prepare for cooking?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Its public housing, so they'll be at below market rents.

Not usually the case, unlike private companies their salaries don't come from

the rental revenues but tax payers money. so they don't care so much about

the occupancy rate when deciding the rents and more likely fixing the rent based

on rates charged by private apartments of similar size without much consideration of

the age of the building.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lol. "Huge". Most plots of land in Japan are smaller than I want for my dog's yard.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The designs are rather ugly compared to my 100 square meter 2-BR. And awfully sterile looking. But, I suppose that's what we can expect from architects who wear face masks.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

JoeinTokyo: Just think of all the money you have saved by drinking beer, remaining irrelevant, AND NOT LOSING YOUR MONEY IN REAL ESTATE!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've been saying this for a long time: one of the benefit of population decrease is space increase per person. This is one example, and more will come.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"'Ive been saying this for a long time: one of the benefit of population decrease is space increase per person. This is one example, and more will come."

Yo, above writer! Years ago--30?--I wrote an article which was titled something like, "Less Children Means More Pie." I was using post-Plague Europe as a model. The Plague had killed off a substancial amount of workers, creating a shortage. Those workers left alive could now fight for higher wages and win. It was then that the first labor union were formed.

The same has happened in Japan in a humane way. Couples are having less children or none at all. Result: workers can more easily pick and choose their companies. This year more 90% of applicants were hired.

Workers can also now walk out of companies they don't like and find new jobs. In the old days if you left a company you were black listed for life.

Also Japan cannot get involved in any wars. Military personnel can no longer be canon fodder. They are expensive personnel. That means keeping them alive.

On top of that, not having children is so much more fun. No screaming kiddies. More space. Money to travel and have fun. No schools to make you miserable. No bullies to drive your kids to suicide.

Well, I've spelled out all the good things about no having children. If the Japanese system wants kids they need to create an environment in which people will want to have kids.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A brother in NY did just that. Rented two apartments and with the permission of the owner converted it into one apartment. But the owner then wanted my brother to leave involving a lengthy court case and great legal expenses and the possibility of my brother being placed on a "NY renters blacklist". Once on that list no one will rent to you again. After several years of court case my brother won but had to surrender one of the apartments but was awarded compensation but had to cover his own legal costs. At least he and his wife are not on the "renters blacklist" In more than 10 years my brother never failed to pay the monthly rent.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I've been saying this for a long time: one of the benefit of population decrease is space increase per person. This is one example, and more will come.

That is not the case in Japan, this particular case is because it is government, private companies are

out to spend less and make as much money as possible, so no matter how large the land is they would still build small as it entails less cost. Houses built in new layouts by private companies are not any bigger than those built 30 years ago, this is a result of Japanese not having the custom of inviting people to their homes or hosting home parties.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Houses built in new layouts by private companies are not any bigger than those built 30 years ago, this is a result of Japanese not having the custom of inviting people to their homes or hosting home parties.

The observation about house size is certainly true. The reasons for it though are complex and cannot be reduced to a single factor. It would be interesting to see how Westerners, Anglos in particular, viewed housing if it suddenly stopped appreciating and became a liability like a car, not something you make money off as an asset/investment.

Poor housing is a major downer on the quality of life in Japan. It'll probably cost you more than you'd like to pay, and certainly won't appreciate to make you rich, but getting somewhere nice can make your life significantly better, much more than money sitting in a bank or investments might. Housing that is not properly earthquake proof also could kill you or your loved ones, and should be avoided altogether.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Ninety-square-meter apartments are virtually unheard of in Japan" what lol? I havent lived in a smaller one yet

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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