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A dark basement emerges from captivity.

Basements yearn to break free. This one found a light, bright second life cloaked in the cooly minimal aesthetic of classic Japan. Buried at the bottom of a Victorian row house, it had been dark, dank, and uninhabitable. The owners wanted to convert it into an entertainment area, guest room, and playroom. Their goals were versatility and a spare, uncluttered look--both hallmarks of Japanese design.

San Francisco architect Kenzo Handa took up the challenge, adapting to contemporary needs his knowledge of sukiya-style houses--those of the Edo period (1603-1868)--which were characterized by a relaxed atmosphere and flexible use of individual spaces. For maximum daylighting and spaciousness, he treated the ground-level basement as a single entity organized around a sunken conversation area, with the guest room on one side and the play are on the opposite one. Only the guest room can be fully enclosed, with sliding shoji panels. Daylight from the rear garden enters though new windows along one side of the entire space. An open corridor (at right edge of big photograph) links all three areas.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Feb 1, 1992
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