ryue nishizawa designs nature retreat, nodding to japanese concept of negative space

ryue nishizawa designs nature retreat, nodding to japanese concept of negative space

Ryue Nishizawa completes SSH No.03 in rural japan

 

Steeped in the lush and serene nature of Karuizawa, SSH No.03 is a mountain retreat designed by Pritzker Prize laureate and co-founder of SANAA Ryue Nishizawa. The project is the latest in the Shishi-Iwa House collection, and marks the Japanese architect’s first hotel project, set to open in Japan’s picturesque mountain resort town, only an hour by train from Tokyo. The third meditative timber retreat is nestled next to the two existing timber structures, SSH No.01 and SSH No.02, opened in 2018 and 2022 and designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban (see more in our previous coverage here). The three houses are only a few minutes walk from each other and share the same purpose of bringing guests closer to nature, fostering a tranquil ambiance for quality time, contemplation, and self-reflection. Each uniquely promotes a harmonious balance between architecture and natural surroundings, celebrating the charm of simplicity.

 

SSH No.03 is dedicated to century-old Japanese residential architecture, taking its references from the notion of transparency and Ma, the Japanese concept of negative space. The team at Ryue Nishizawa elaborately played with volumes and empty areas, generating a series of covered walkways (engawa) and garden courtyards that meander around the built area. This is a favorite architectural element of the architect himself that offers intermediate spaces and cultivates a sense of discovery and moments of stillness.

ryue nishizawa designs nature retreat, nodding to japanese concept of negative space
all images by Kenichi Suzuki

 

 

a constant dialogue between nature and architecture

 

The alternation of solids and voids allows natural light to spill over the interiors, thus creating direct communication with the surroundings. SSH No.03 comprises ten pavilions offering both Western-style lodges and traditional Japanese suites. Each room stands as an autonomous unit and features openings on all four walls, framing beautiful vistas of the forest and internal gardens. The wrapped terrace fosters social interaction and seeks to blur the line between inside and outside. The landscape is dotted with hundreds of cherry, maple, and evergreen trees, endowing the site with a vivid backdrop all year round. A bathhouse and tea house also complement the Ma experience envisioned by the architect.

 

Locally sourced hinoki cypress wood becomes the protagonist of the house and fills the spaces with an aromatic scent. Ryue Nishizawa (see more here) opted for this distinctive rare wood for the interiors of the retreat and the furnishings, in order to exude a minimalistic yet warm atmosphere when entering the room. This type of wood is described as sacred wood as it has been utilized for centuries to build shrines, temples, and palaces, thanks to its durability and distinctive aromas.

ryue nishizawa designs nature retreat, nodding to japanese concept of negative space
Shishi-Iwa House No.03 designed by Pritzker Prize laureate Ryue Nishizawa

 

A collection of antique Japanese furniture and vintage mid-century modern pieces complete the architecture of the retreat. Moreover, throughout SSH No.03, one can view a significant cultural heritage collection of around 50 original ukiyo-e woodblock prints from many major artists, including Utagawa Hiroshige and Shibata Zeshin in the 1840s, and Azechi Umetaro and Sekino Junichiro in the 1960s

ryue nishizawa designs nature retreat, nodding to japanese concept of negative space
SSH no.03 is comprised of 10 pavilions interconnected by a series of engawa (covered walkways) and garden courtyards

ryue nishizawa designs nature retreat, nodding to japanese concept of negative space
inspired by Ma, the Japanese concept of negative space

ryue-nishizawa-shishi-iwa-house-no-03-japan-negative-space-designboom-31800

 

ryue nishizawa designs nature retreat, nodding to japanese concept of negative space
a harmonious coexistence of architecture and nature

ryue nishizawa designs nature retreat, nodding to japanese concept of negative space

ryue-nishizawa-shishi-iwa-house-no-03-japan-negative-space-designboom-21800

ryue nishizawa designs nature retreat, nodding to japanese concept of negative space
there are different types of rooms, from Western-style cabins to Tatami suites

 

 

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project info:

 

name: SSH No.03 

architects: Ryue Nishizawa 

client: Shishi-Iwa House | @shishiiwahouse

location: Karuizawa, Japan

photography: Kenichi Suzuki

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