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A cup of tea with... td Atelier

Tada Masaharu, founder of td Atelier, takes care of the local aspect of his architectural interventions with dedication and perseverance, paying close attention to traditional construction methods.

Passionate about do-it-yourselfers, part of his work focuses on renovations himself, making use of the collaboration of the local population or students and paying the expenses through crowdfunding grants.

While appreciating the advantages and services offered by large cities, he is fascinated by country life and the sensorial aspect evoked by nature, so much so that he tries every day to recreate moments that refer to a primitive and essential contact with it.

Trained in Akira Sakamoto's studio, he continues his search for purity for an architecture that respects as much as possible the peculiarities of the place in which it is inserted.


Let's start with the first question to break the ice: How do you get your tea?

I often drink coffee during breaks. Add a little soy milk to the coffee.

Occasionally I drink black tea or Japanese tea.

When boiling water for coffee, I sometimes use an gas stove for outdoor equipment.

And sometimes I take a break in the nearby river to eat and drink coffee.

This means carrying a house.

Primitive actions also allow us to think about fire, water and wood. It's not expensive coffee, but we can spend a very rich time.

To this day, what do you think is your most significant and representative work of your design approach? Is there a project that you consider emblematic to tell who are you?

“mugen plus” and “Employment support center YORIDOKO”.

For me, my work is roughly divided into two. One is work centered on Kyoto.

The other one is DIY and low-tech work in a region called Kumano. “Mugen plus” is a 120-year-old traditional Kyoto townhouse that has been renovated into a guest house with modern elements.

“YORIDOKO” is a building that was completed with the cooperation of university students and local residents by raising funds through crowdfunding.

Both are my masterpieces.

td Atelier_ Mugen plus. Photo ©Kohei Matsumura

td Atelier_ Centro di sostegno per l'impiego di Yoridoko. Photo ©Kohei Matsumura

What do you think is a decisive project (of others) for your professional career? Who do you consider your teacher or an important reference for your work?

“Shizuya KYOTO” and “Kohnoie”

"Shizuya KYOTO" is my first important work in Kyoto.

It's a big project for me, and it's an architecture that made me think deeply about traditional construction methods and Japanese gardens and exterior spaces.

“Kohnoie” is my first important work in Kumano.

I rented an old folk house and did DIY and renovation by myself.

We were able to find artists and sawmills ourselves and get them to cooperate.

Also my teacher is Akira Sakamoto.

I trained in his atelier.

I learned a lot of important things about architecture from him.

He creates white and minimalist architecture.

I carefully arrange the purity and the regional characteristics of Kyoto and Kumano to create architecture.

td Atelier_ Shizuya_Kyoto. Photo ©Kohei Matsumura

td Atelier_ Kohnoie. Photo ©Kohei Matsumura

What will be the direction for the future of Japanese home architecture? Climate change, the aging of the population, the evolution of our daily habits due to the pandemic, which changes can affect the living spaces of tomorrow and how?

Japan's aging population and declining birthrate are very serious problems.

Many buildings, houses and land are becoming surplus in Japan.

However, the industries that form the basis of human beings, such as agriculture, fisheries, and forestry, are located in rural areas far from big cities.

We can learn the richness of life from the local nature.

We must not forget the richness of the region while enjoying the benefits of the big cities.

Unoccupied houses in rural areas support such a life.

Covid-19 has a huge impact on our lives.

It is especially difficult to move and gather people.

Many old people live in rural areas.

We are having difficulty meeting them.

This is a huge loss.

However, old people are also learning technologies such as zoom.

Being able to communicate remotely with them far away is a big win.

But what really matters is that you can't get it in a remote conversation.

I can't wait for the day when the turmoil has subsided and I can meet and communicate with them.


TD Atelier - Tada Masaharu 

1976 Born in Kyoto, Japan

2002 Trained at Akira Sakamoto Architect and Associates

2006 Established td-Atelier

2011 Part-time lecturer at Kindai Univ.

2016 Visiting Professor, Kyoto University of Art and Design

add: 83, Nishishichijo Minaminishinocho, Shimogyo-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto,Japan mail: tadamasa20(at) URL:


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