Villa A is designed as a holiday retreat in the town of Karuizawa, at the east end of Nagano Prefecture. About 1000 meters above the sea level, Karuizawa has been one of the historically most popular summer resorts within easy reach from Tokyo.
The villa lives of a certain dichotomy: a dark and intimate reinforced concrete volume, partially buried underground, hosts the private rooms -guest rooms, bedrooms, library, bathroom and laundry- with narrow openings on its southern side facade. Its soft spindle shape derives from the contour lines of the terrain and ensures the stability of the retaining wall against the mountain.
A curvy thin plate shelters the upper house as the wing of a bird brooding its nest; moreover this lightweight roof gently conceals the neighbouring houses on the eastern side of the villa. Its shape results from a two-phased modelling process: at first the plate has been bent along two dimensions, secondly a 1/5 inclination was imposed in order to comply with the local regulation. Its structure consists of multiple layers of corten steel sheets in complete adherence to each other; the slab has lattice ribs on its bottom fibres and is only 15 cm thick in total.
The landscape surrounding the villa has been designed in collaboration with the British horticulturist Paul Smither, as to achieve a carefully refined integration of the villa within its contest.
Text by Satoshi Okada