N Guesthouse



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photo: Kaori Ichikawa

Oita prefecture is located 1,200km southwest of Tokyo or 90-minutes flight from the capital. From the Oita airport, the approach to the site requires another 120km drive to the south.
A new building serves as a firm's private guesthouse. It stands together with the firm's existing plants and office building on a site situated along the shore, embracing a cove. It was the client's wish to accommodate its guests with a relaxation space upon their visits to the plants.
Built against a steep hill, the guesthouse is mostly filled with a tubular space, which opens toward the ocean. As the ocean bed gradually ascends towards the shore, to the hill, and finally to the sky, the floors are laid somewhat parallel to this topographical condition. As a result, the interior space, as a whole, gives an impression of an extensive, gently sloping staircase.
The space interfaces the ocean with a glazed opening 5 metres in height and 4 metres in width. Due to a micro climate generated through the air conditioning, the glass window remains fixed, allowing the space to draw the ocean view into itself while obstructing any penetration, such as breeze, sound, smell through the opening.
When looking out the window, one finds the ocean view being cut out by a 'frame' of the opening. Viewed from the bottom of the 'stairs,' the picture appears to be highly dominated by the sky where the ocean view hanging on its bottom line. In turn, when one casts his eyes down from the top of the 'stairs' with his head nearly touching the ceiling, a greater part of the picture reveals the ocean view.
Besides this shift in viewpoints, a surface treatment of the interior also gives variations to the picture. The inner surfaces of the tubular space -i.e. the walls, ceiling, and floors, save the opening -are covered with glazy materials so that they mirror the ocean view captured through the opening. The reflection is subject to a constant change. The manifold picture generated by this interplay of different viewpoints and surface textures will give each visitor different experience as well as a feeling of intimacy.
It can be said that this is a space that amplifies our senses of the ocean. Within a confined space where the visual and tactile elements being controlled, that regulates the relationship between the inside and the outside, the space becomes, as it were, a part of our body.

Text : Takao Shiotsuka  /  Translated into English : Jun Doi