Shishi-Iwa House – Japan

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Designer and architect: Shigeru Ban

Being immersed in tranquil forests with the only sounds coming from birds and the rustling breeze, the human mind begins to relax, the physiology begins to heal.

Newly opened Shishi-Iwa House is a 10-room boutique resort in Karuizawa, Japan. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and developed by HDHP GK, a social enterprise sponsored by HDH Capital Management, Shishi-Iwa House is a restorative retreat that reinforces the relationship between nature, architecture and human connection.

Unique in its architecture, the two-storey retreat crafted in a smooth, curvilinear form with an undulating roof that flows with the movement of the forest. With the goal of conserving as many existing trees in the property as possible, Ban developed a new building approach that has never been used in hotel construction. Shishi-Iwa House is built to embrace the notion of social hospitality, and aims to be a place to reflect and restore energy, and in turn spark new ways of thinking for guests.

Encouraging both private and social experiences, the property showcases a seamless flow of spaces designed with unique humanistic qualities, where each guest room is a meditative retreat in itself. Guest rooms on the lower floor open out to a private garden, offering exclusive outdoor access while upper floor rooms incorporate a private balcony terrace – a unique feature of Shishi-Iwa House.

Shigeru Ban: For this project, I was interested in developing a distinct design language befitting to its beautiful location. Everything from the construction to the furniture and interior detailing was carefully planned and considered to achieve a bespoke atmosphere.

Blending the interior and exterior spaces, we created unique openings in the guest rooms and social areas to allow best views of the garden and encourage outdoor access. Timber was our material of choice for the design, which is used to heighten the sense of warmth and coherence throughout the boutique retreat.

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