Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Architecture that co-exists with nature / Architect : Kengo Kuma

   Yusuhara, known as the “Kumo-no-Ue-no-Machi” (lit. “Town above the clouds”), has four buildings designed by world famous architect Kengo Kuma (as of March 2017). The buildings are characteristic in that they are built lavishly with wood from Yusuhara, and they harmonize well with the surrounding nature.

   The reason why Kengo Kuma came to design buildings in Yusuhara lies in Yusuhara-za, the only wooden theater house in Kochi. It is said that he was impressed by the efforts to preserve Yusuhara-za at the time, and he got interested in wooden architecture. He received a request from the town of Yusuhara, and starting with “Kumo-no-Ue-no-Hotel”, he built “Yusuhara Town Hall”, “Machinoeki Yusuhara”, and “Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum”. Also, Yusuhara Town Library and Welfare Facility are in the process of being built now.
Kumo-no-Ue-no-Hotel (Location: Tarogawa 3799-3)
   The rounded roof is constructed in the image of an airplane’s wing, and the design uses the concept of fusing together glass, wood, and water. The restaurant interior is made from wood as well, and it creates a comforting atmosphere. There is a Canadian staff member who can handle your requests in English as well as Japanese.

Wood aroma fills the interior
Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum
   The gallery which connects the hotel to the neighboring onsen. There is an impressive quality to the distinct design, which makes it seem like the building blends into the Yusuhara forests. It has won awards and received high acclaim for featuring local materials in its construction. On the day we visited, the exterior looked very beautiful with the sun shining from behind it.
Machinoeki “Yusuhara” (Location: Yusuhara 1196-11)
   Thatching is used for the exterior walls of this facility, which houses a hotel and a marketplace for local specialty goods. Cedar logs line the interior, lending a mysterious forest-like feel. The light which shines through the windows seems like sunlight filtering through trees.
Yusuhara Town Hall (Location: Yusuhara 1444-1)
   Saying that this town hall has the most elaborate design in Japan might not be an exaggeration. The building uses plentiful amounts of Yusuhara cedar and the interior has the comforting presence of wood. In addition to possessing the function of resourcefully using natural energy, the large front doors can open up to turn the building into a large event space.
A town that gathers attention from inside and outside the country
   Yusuhara, which is creating an environmentally friendly town by utilizing natural energy such as sunlight, wind power, geothermal heat, and hydropower, is attracting attention as a model environmental city from both inside and outside the country. There are more and more foreign tourists visiting Yusuhara, where you can experience history and the great outdoors. Why don't you go and visit it?

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