Nagi by Eiri Ota and Irene Gardpoit Chan


Designers Eiri Ota and Irene Gardpoit Chan of UUfie have completed the renovation of an apartment in Kanagawa, Japan, where the space is divided by two velvet curtains.

Called Nagi, the 1970's apartment was stripped back and coated in diluted white paint.

Above photo is by Eiri Ota

Two tracks snake through the space above head-height.

Above photo is by Eiri Ota

Curtains made of patterned white velvet can be moved along these rails to open and close off section of the home.

Photographs are by Daici Ano except where stated otherwise.

Here's some more information from UUfie:


Nagi is a renovated living space for a young married couple and child in a 30 years old apartment complex.

Above photo is by Eiri Ota

After dismantling the existing space, and fixing the furniture into the skeleton of it, it is then painted in 70% diluted white paint.

Above photo is by Eiri Ota

Next, 2 curving steel pipes, 13m and 4.5m in length are suspended at 1.9m from the floor creating an illusional division. Hang with no support from the ceiling, they function like railing of monorails in the city, distributing to the respective spaces.

Curtains are hung along the extend of the railing. The curtains are made with velvet fabric and are printed with geometric patterns through a processes of melting rayon on to fabric.

Permeability is controlled, allowing visual privacy while having light transmission across the spaces.

Above photo is by Eiri Ota

In the future, these can be exchanged for partial curtaining, hanging of art and photography, thus adjusting to life and changing circumstances.

However, the railings will always remain there as a backbone to their life.

title : Nagi
location : Kanagawa, Japan
architect : Eiri Ota + Irene Gardpoit Chan / UUfie
general contractor : Shiraji Tech co,ltd
principal use : 5th floor apartment
total fl oor area : 74.00sqm
existing structure : RC
design period : 2009.4-2009.7
construction period : 2009.7-2009.8
photo by Daici Ano / Eiri Ota

Posted on Wednesday December 2nd 2009 at 10:33 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • famul

    Where is the kid sleeping?
    The whole thing is too cold. There no life in it!

  • @ famul, I could not agree more! It’s an interesting concept though…

  • Xit


    granny, net curtain, doily, retirement home, hospital in no particular order

  • My thoughts exactly Xit. Looks like a fancy pants hospital that is trying to make you feel OK with the idea that you are in a hospital, but it’s still just a hospital.

  • Jones

    I’ll second those questions about where the child is going to sleep. This isn’t the first Japanese project I’ve seen with a serious lack of privacy, and I’d put that down to differing social norms. Either that, or an obsession with not interfering with space. Still, it would be nice to see one of these buildings with some furniture and life in it.

  • PP

    Certainly it is a cold space as it remains witouth furniture, but this coldness is offering more. It is a blank page waiting for being carefully fill and decorated. Once this happens this place can turn into a cozy and warmth athmospehere space.

  • João B

    maybe the kid lives by himself… or his parents have found a different way for not having another kid…

  • Vinch

    Maybe Japanese have a different idea of privacy?

  • Babu

    PP,i totally agree with you! I like this design…very japanese, clean and soft…

  • ae

    Maybe the kid was just visiting…
    or is one of the two owners.

  • testek

    white.. what an unusual colour for a japanese design

  • Luca

    Not a fan of shower curtains. And, completely turned-off by the proximity of the door-less loo less than 3 meters from the kitchen. Yuck.

  • 0hzone

    odd that you would put the living area out the back and the dining and bedroom together next to the biggest balcony and kitchen.

    just an excuse to challenge conventionalism or forcing the need for the curtain to be used – tail (curtain) wagging the dog.

    awful curtain.

    following on from PP – it will be quite easy for the furniture removalists to put the bed where it should be (out the back) and the living roomfurniture out the front in the living space.

  • Fistule

    Usually in a Japanese family the kid is sleeping with his parents. It’s called sleeping as the river flow. And definitely, Japanese have a different sense of privacy.

  • Sander

    Very very cosy, nice house to raise a kid, let’s hope it has some nice friends…

  • joe

    The Ano-san pictures make it look whay better than the architects’ own shots . . . Interesting.

  • need it !

  • the

    delicate and simple….the flow of the space opens it to so many possibilities…
    I think it just takes an imaginative mind to think about how to live in the space..
    so boo hoo to the above!

  • seems simple but it is not, everything is done for space

  • ziva

    Looks like a hospital. Dont like it at all. sorry!!!

  • misashi

    i did something sort of like this for my assignment, incoporating the use of curtains, although i was told it gives the viewer a sense of being in the hospital, nevertheless i proceed with with it…BIG CHEERS for this design

  • Love love love it. Its a more modern version of traditional Japanese shojii screens, sliding walls/doors.

    Its not a western concept, but this is perfection for a culture where simplicity is everything.

  • “The whole thing is too cold. There no life in it!”

    The “life” comes from the people, and the material possissions that clutter our lives. Believe me, put a family in there and witin a day or 2, the place will feel and look completely different.

    I wish these were here in the US….I think it could be very economical to rehab older building and create housing for the poor in this way.

  • TO

    their website…who think the space is cold anymore!!!

  • Chi

    Completely agree with you Urban Woodswalker – thank you for saying your comment :)
    I can see so many possibilities with those curtain reilings, and I like the diluted white paint which gives the space an airy, light feeling. I don’t think that images of architecture should have any furniture/people/etc in them unless they were designed together, i.e. the furniture designed for that exact space.

  • dc

    i like it !definately a fun idea on different ways to divide space but i dont see it working in real life. this is the sort of thing that i would think is amazing but when i show it to my professors they would look at me as if i’d gone crazy :)

  • hcm

    For those that are looking for a bed.. in a traditional Japanese house, you get what is called “futon” – padded mattresses that are stored inside wardrobes during daytime and taken out at night to be used as sleeping beds. It is common to see Japanese family uses a space as living room during the day and as bedroom at night.

    Considering traditional Japanese houses have space divided by sliding doors made out of wooden frames and paper, white curtain in this case is actually not that bad, as for introducing natural light into such an enclosed space.

  • John Sweetman

    whoa – chill with the negativity.
    Obviously the client is on board with this or it wouldn’t have been realized.
    The translucent quality of the whole thing from the paint to the fabric, to the space itself is a clear uncompromised vision. I see hints of Corbusier and Holl here blended with a reinterpretation of the traditional Ryokan.
    I look forward to seeing the next project.

  • Michael Swanson

    Were haircuts and wardrobe also specified?