Prefab holiday home in Karuizawa to receive heritage listing

Sekisui House A Type Prefab Home 3

A 53-year old holiday home in Karuizawa is to be the first prefab home in Japan to receive a heritage listing.

The Yamasaki-Usui Villa was built in 1963 in Karuizawa – a popular mountain resort area in Nagano Prefecture. The single-storey house is part of Sekisui House’s ‘A-Type’ of prefab homes. These homes revolutionised Japan’s home-building industry in the 1960s. The house remains in largely original condition and is said to be the oldest surviving A-type model in the country.

The A-type was introduced in April 1960 as the first of Sekisui House’s prefab homes. Later that year the A-type prefab houses were exported overseas to countries including Australia and Tanzania. Over the following years additional models were introduced, including cabin homes and two-storey homes.

The house has been owned by the Yamasaki and Usui families since 1971. It was built using a light-weight steel frame and has a total floor area of just 34 sqm (366 sq.ft). The house is privately owned and not open to the public.

Sekisui House A Type Prefab Home 2

Sekisui House A Type Prefab Home 1

Sekisui House A Type Prefab Home 4
An early advertisement for Sekisui House’s A-Type model home.

Prefab homes were widely introduced in Japan from the early 1960s. They were able to quickly meet a severe housing shortage amidst a period of rapid economic growth following WWII. Daiwa House created the first prefab home – the Midget House – in 1959. The house was a single room of less than 10 sqm (108 sq.ft), and could be assembled in as little as three hours.  In 2014, prefab homes accounted for approximately 15% of all new homes built in Japan in the year.

The Chunichi Shimbun, March 12, 2016.
Nagano Prefectural Board of Education Press Release, March 11, 2016.
Sekisui House Newsletter, March 15, 2016.

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