Published in DASH #15 – Home Work City
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Mumeisha Machiya

Kyoto (JP)

Machiya are traditional wooden dwellings that are still very common in Japanese cities. The combination of dwelling and work space is anchored in the genesis of this dwelling type, which was built by the merchants and craftsmen of old. The original use included the display of goods in the shop (mise) on the street side and living space for families in the rooms at the back. The sleeping quarters of the staff were on the upper floor and kimonos and other valuable possessions were kept safe in the storage room (kura), the ‘treasury’ at the back of the courtyard. The urban structure consists of a grid of squares, with the machiya forming more or less closed building blocks. In some cases blocks are dissected by smaller streets and divided into fragments.