Renovating an Entire Japanese Hamlet — An Interview With TEAM Clapton

Amélie Geeraert
Kokoro Media
Published in
15 min readMar 1, 2024

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Akira Yamaguchi is one of the founding members of TEAM Clapton. This construction group does design, renovation, and builds event spaces. Their specialization: their construction sites are open to everybody who wants to help, beginners included. Last year, TEAM Clapton was involved in renovating a small traditional village, transforming it into a small lodging complex with a co-working space. Read on to discover the roots of TEAM Clapton’s “do-it- together” spirit, how it applies to their many projects, the challenges of managing groups of people, and the virtues of traditional Japanese housing.

The “Do-It-Together” Spirit

The construction site is open to all.

TEAM Clapton is a construction group that does design, renovation, and builds event spaces. How would you define TEAM Clapton, and how did you get started?

TEAM Clapton revolves around the concept of “do-it-together.” People are familiar with the term “do-it-yourself,” which is the spirit of trying to do things yourself when you want to build something or change the atmosphere of a place. “Do-it-together” is all about building things with other people: kids, adults, neighbors, friends — all come together to transform a space. When we are working on a project, we live directly on site. We eat and sleep there.

The construction site is open to all. The people working can be the people who asked for your services, their friends and family, local people, and people who like to build things. In the case of a shop, it can be their customers or future customers. Our job is to manage the projects and the people who partake in them.

We started our activities in 2014, and we now have two branches: one in Kyoto and one in Kobe. Today we count seven members, who are all from different backgrounds. Our members all joined one of our workshops at some point, had fun, came again, and finally asked if they could be permanent members.

I am the only one who has studied architecture. The others used to do very different jobs. One of our members even used to be a kindergarten teacher! We only became a company in January 2021. Before that, we were a group of independent workers.

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Amélie Geeraert
Kokoro Media

Living in Japan since 2011. I love interviewing inspiring people.