Bjarke Ingels’ Not A Hotel Setouchi Converges Scandinavian and Japanese Design

A trio of villas situated on Japan’s Sagishima Island.

Design
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Architecture studio BIG and Japanese hospitality brand Not A Hotel have teamed up to design a trio of villas located on Japan’s Sagishima Island. Helmed by architects Bjarke Ingels and Leon Rost, the villas are a convergence of Japanese and Scandinavian design aesthetics.

The concept was inspired by the convergence of the two cultures when Japan opened its borders to international travel in the 19th century. Japanese and Scandinavian designs similarly favor minimalism and the use of natural materials. The rooms feature wood ceilings and slate floors and are open to the ocean with panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows. Curved clay walls offer a warm but simple shape to the space.

The villas are officially called Not A Hotel Setouchi, named after the region of Japan, and sit on the southwestern cape of the island, offering views of the Seto Inland Sea. A nod to Japanese single-story houses, all of the villas are just one floor but contain either three or four bedrooms. The circular villas also embrace the natural terrain – grass begins right where the villa’s foundation ends.

“Our design approach for NOT A HOTEL Setouchi wasn’t about imposing our ideas on the site; instead, it involved exploring, observing and understanding the landscape. We envisioned how to best leverage this distinctive and remarkable terrain and fixed upon a design that mirrors the elegance of traditional Japanese architecture,” Ingels said.

“Japan is one of the cultures in the world where commitment to craft and care for quality remains intact. The honesty and simplicity of the structure and careful choice of materials can be said to have greatly influenced the traditional architecture of Japan and the modern architecture of Denmark. Maybe that’s why when I go to Japan, I always feel like I’m coming home.”

Construction is expected to wrap up by 2026 and sales for the Not A Hotel Setouchi villas will open soon.

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