kenta sano and associates has built a group of five villa cottages on a hill in biei, a village known to many as ‘the most beautiful village in japan‘. located on a triangular site surrounded by rows of white birch and japanese yezo spruce on two sides, the houses are arranged in a cluster that imitates the form of the site. aiming to blend in the architecture with the surrounding landscape and make it seem as part of the forest, the architects have built the five identical structures using two materials: reinforced concrete from the foundation to the ground floor; and wood from the first floor to the second floor.
all images courtesy of kenta sano and associates, architects
‘when we first visited the site, the extreme beauty took our breath away,’ says kenta sano and associates.‘we thought of how we would blend architecture into this landscape and how we could make a modest building, in the attitude of being given a portion of nature.’ the five villa cottages are built as mixed structures that combine reinforced concrete and wood to mimic the appearance of the adjacent forest and blend into the natural landscape. the main living room in each residence has been raised to the middle floor level, according to the height of the foliage, following the silhouette of the surrounding trees.
a continuous exterior concrete passage connects all five cottages, while this continuity extends also inside the dwellings, where a platform and stairs wrap around the interior perimeter and height of each building. spaces inside are brightly lit thanks to large windows that bring in natural light, air, and views. ‘we can feel the exterior nature more directly from the rooms, and the colorful and unique appearance of the outside, by means of all five houses having megaphone shaped section,’ adds kenta sano.
name: cottage in biei
architect: kenta sano and associates, architects
architect in charge: kenta sano, sakutaro kakehashi
location: hokkaido, japan
structural designer: momiarchi
designer in charge: hirohide tao, akihiro sakurai
contractor: hashimoto kawashima co.,ltd.
constructor (machine): asada setsubi kougyo co.,ltd.
constructor (electricity): kametani densetsu co.,ltd.
structure: wooden structure(partly reinforced concrete)
scale: 3 stories above and 0 stories below
site area: 1,859.88 m2
floor area: 377.49 m2