Follow The Spiral of Change
Villa Shell changes the vision for vacation homes in Karuizawa, Japan. It transforms the hard workday of its owners as well as some of the traditions in the region. It is in agreement with the local characteristics, and at the same time it transcends them. Local conditions and global architectural trends are in symbiosis.
In the midst of deciduous and coniferous forests, winning over the harsh climate, the Japanese architectural studio ARTechnic creates an oasis of tranquility and comfort. The original idea of the team, led by architect Kotaro Ide (founder of the studio), was to build a three-dimensionally curved shell, with a C-shaped section, which was to draw the letter J. The tall fir trees were seen as a center of the project, while the pines had to surround the building. Subsequently, the architects have decided on two-dimensionally curved shell, and the J-shaped form has been achieved with two different in size elliptical cylinders. In the style of many modern sculptures, the architecture aims at emphasizing the surrounding nature.
At the same time, the low temperatures and high humidity impose the use of concrete (a material traditionally rejected in the region). Thus the fate of many local houses, which begin to erode under the atmospheric influences, is avoided. The villa is planned not just as a place for vacation. Its major purpose is to provide comfort, relaxation andpicturesque views at the end of every work week. This function of the villa contradicts with the Japanese practice to take very little time for vacation, and distinguishes it from many houses in the area which are visited only in the summer, though he journey from Tokyo to Karuizawa takes about an hour.
The peace and comfort of the guests are priorities. The central control system allows all mechanical and electrical equipment to be managed with three buttons. In the construction, special attention is paid to the security, air conditioning and ventilation systems. The floor is raised 1.4 meter above the ground, and the internal space is divided into separate rooms.
A cozy atmosphere is achieved with prevailing oval shapes. The summer sun rays play on the spacious terraces, hidden in the curve of the letter J. During the winter, the exterior landscape becomes a part of the interior warmth through the glass walls. Thanks to them and to the elliptical windows on the ceiling, natural light easily enters the premises. The oval shapes and the natural views, surrounding the shell, create a surreal sensation – a sure way to escape from the dynamic workaday routine of the Japanese.