Stimulated by Nature

Kengo Kuma and Associates recently completed a hotel project near Lake Toya in Japan. The building was transformed from a nursing home into a tree-like boutique hotel and is a perfect example of the Japanese style of sustainable design by maintaining existing elements and designing additional features where needed.

WE hotel toya using fabric and wood

Kengo Kuma transforms a Japanese nursing home into the WE hotel Toya, using fabric and wood

Called We Hotel Toya, the building covers a 5,330-square-metre area and is designed as a boutique hotel that embraces nature and makes use of all the local materials which is typical of many Kengo Kuma projects.

We Hotel Toya

The interiors of the boutique hotel is designed like a tent-like structure

We Hotel Toya Hokkaido

Dining At We Hotel Toya Hokkaido

“We transformed a nursing home located by the Lake Toya (in Hokkaido, Japan) into a boutique-type hotel of wood and fabric,” says Kengo Kuma, whose aim is to design architecture which naturally merges with its cultural and environmental surroundings, proposing gentle, human-scaled buildings. The office is constantly in search of new materials to replace concrete and steel and seeks a new approach for architecture in a post-industrial society. Scale has huge regard for such forms of construction and will keep looking out for such projects that scale into the new century using technology but be guided by sustainable principles in all its approaches.

WE Hotel Toya

Locally-available wood is used as one major element in this boutique hotel

We Hotel Toya Kengo Kuma Japan

The details of the cedar logs that are used in the building

“Locally produced cedar logs were applied both for the façade and the interior in order to create a space of comfort,” says Kengo Kuma, who has created a cave-like comfort within a building that is not as exciting to perceive as its interiors are scintillating in its wooden marvel.

“We also designed a cave-formed space with pleated cloths in the interior over which a magnificent view of the lake’s surface emerges right in front,” he says. “In the balcony of each guest room, a hinoki (cypress) bathtub is placed so that the guests can enjoy both the spectacular landscape of the lake and the fresh aroma of the tree.”

Riposo in WE Hotel Toya

WE Hotel Toya

WE Hotel Toya

Details of the interiors of the We Hotel

The hotel’s wooden façade is inspired by the abundant nature of Lake Toya and fabric materials covering the lobby and restaurant.

The hotel includes guest rooms, wrapped in the serene air of Lake Toya, with a cypress open-air bath. In the rooms, wooden floors and wooden furniture and fixtures reflect Kuma’s style.

Pictures Courtesy © Kawasumi Kobayashi Kenji Photograph Office

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