One year ago from today, we moved from a 60+yrs old Japanese wooden house to a so-called a “Danchi style” public housing flat located in southern Yokohama. It was in our plan to live in a public housing sometime in our future. Our dream was living in multiple locations, going and staying in different countries according to our works. So finding a humble pad in Japan was in our plan. Covid just made it happen sooner than we had expected.

When we decided to move, we looked into many different places. We drove all around Yokohama for an ideal location. Looked into really cool 70’s high rise apartment which looked like we were in Hongkong or was it a clipping from a movie? The downtown area didn’t looked like we imagined. Sadly everything was deteriorating, people looked grey and tied. Every place, building we visited didn’t feel right. Is there something wrong with us ? Or was our budget too low? What happed to the good old Yokohama? Nothing felt right.

“If I was ever going to move in a public housing this is where I want to live.” I showed the page of an apartment complex designed by Fumihiko Maki. I’m not so sure when I mentioned this but around 6yrs ago? Though for this move, it wasn’t our first choice. Reason? Well, we knew this area really well. Maybe too well. Hiro had been commuting to this area for 30yrs and we just bid farewell to this area 6yrs ago. Even though Maki’s complex seems good, we didn’t plan to live around this area of Yokohama.

In the mid 70`s the total area of 660 hectares of what use to be a coastline was landfilled and part of this landfill (82 hectares) was assigned to design a public housing to accommodate a rising population for the city of Yokohama. Yokohama city assigned Maki to design the overall landscape of this area and when the overall shape of the town is created, he and 4 other architect join in and created the housing complex. Each complex is inter-related by small streets and blocks which keep the large vehicle away. The building varies from small town houses to 3 floor to 5 floor low rise apartment and 15 floor high rise apartments. These building / area is divided to accommodate low income to mid income people.

When we walked into the vacant room ready to be rented out, the place was small but the feeling was just right. Every room was filled with lights, the breeze flow freely around the house. The renovation was simply done but it felt just right. The scale, size of the room was perfect for just two of us.

We took a walk around the area and surprised with the variety of nationality living in this area. This area is for mid-income families so I expected people to look more tied, but no. I felt a good mixture of nationality and incomes all effortlessly intercrossing in this area. I’ve lived in multiple areas in Yokohama in the pass 30yrs but I alway felt a big gap between the rich and the poor. I don’t know if Maki intended this aspect in his Urban design theory, but this place seemed urban in a surreal way.

Some how it made us felt relived and felt like the good old Yokohama was still alive. So, in a couple of hour, we signed the papers to keep this room for us.



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