Yasuhiro Yamashita x (Atelier TEKUTO + Amami Design Firm)
Nest at Amami Beach Villas —-In-between the Sky and the Sea
This resort complex is located in my birthplace of Amami Oshima, a subtropical island halfway between Okinawa and the southern tip of Kyushu (the most southwestern island of the four main islands of Japan.)
Amami Oshima, with a population of 60 thousand, is the largest of the Amami Islands, an archipelago listed for registration for the UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites. It is an island easily accessible, with Amami Airport boasting 44 incoming and outgoing flights a day.
Its unique culture and natural environment have been preserved for thousands of years. Amamian culture is renowned for its folk songs and dances, influenced by cultures of both the Ryukyu Dynasty of Okinawa and the Satsuma Domain which covered a large part of Kyushu during the Edo period (1603-1868.) It has forests rich in flora and fauna such as dark-furred Amami rabbits and is surrounded by beautiful beaches with coral reefs.
Sugarcane and fruit farming are currently its major industries. It still carries on the tradition of Oshima Tsumugi textile production (silk kimono fabric dyed with mud, rich in iron) which used to be the key industry in the past.
In spite of all its beauty based on its natural environment preserved from antiquity and its adorable culture, one thing Amami lacked was luxurious accommodations for high-end travelers.
I personally bore the responsibility of searching for the ideal site for a resort complex, starting in March 2015, the construction began in August of 2016 and completion was achieved in November 2017. The complex is comprised of 3 types of buildings: an administration building with the hotel reception and restaurant, 3 luxury pool villas and 10 semi-detached villas, totaling 14 buildings with 23 guest rooms.
The sloped site faces the sea to the southeast with a height difference of 25 meters. Tranquility and intimacy dominates the gentle path leading down to a beautiful beach on the quiet inland sea. The landscape was constructed in such a way as to restore the original indigenous seascape of Amami and embed the structures into the surrounding vegetation and nature.
The form of the Pool Villas, developed together with the structural engineer, was inspired by traditional Amamian raised-floor granaries, traditional local hip-and-gable roofed houses and also conch-shells found in Amami.
The exterior walls and roofs are clad with silver-gray wood planks developed for this project. I experimented with locally sourced Itajii (Castanopsis sieboldii) lumber and applied the same traditional mud-dyeing method used for dying the Oshima Tsumugi textile. The Itajii wood rich in tannin, when soaked in the iron-rich mud of Amami, hosts a chemical reaction that turns the wood into a deep gray color.
The roofs of the other structures also use this material.
The semi-detached villas named 2-Key Villas repeat the same pair of plans, rhythmically staggering their positions both plan-wise and section-wise. Half of the 2-Key Villas can also be used as a suite connected via the terrace.
Two large roofs of the restaurant building overlap each other at odd angles, protruding dynamically, giving the space a swirling feel and multilayered complexity.
Such architectural forms and multilayered space all come from an underlying concept, “Designing the In-betweens” that ties the whole project together.
Designing the In-betweens
Amami Oshima has been the site of numerous conflicts and battles throughout its history. It has been repeatedly claimed in turns by both the Ryuku Dynasty and Satsuma Domain since the medieval era all through to the Edo period. After World War II, it was governed by the United States for 8 years until it was returned to Japan in 1953.
It can be said that the identity of Amami has always found its stand in between others, both geographically and historically.
I believe the commission to design this resort complex came to me for several reasons. Being from this island, having created numerous pieces of characteristic architecture with compact spaces, and having developed original construction methods and structures utilizing local materials of various regions and having researched resort facilities for a long period of time.
Upon embarking on this project, I not only studied the history, nature and vegetation of Amami, but also conducted an extensive survey of the existing accommodation facilities on the island. Through the process, I arrived at the conclusion that affair of designing in and for Amami is a matter of “designing the in-betweens.”
The concept can be broken down into five aspects.
Designing the in-betweens is by no means a negative mindset. I regard this concept as a new way of making progress through defining one’s own standpoint, learning from history, breaking the status quo, and to take control of one’s own future.
|completion date||November 2017|
|location||Tatsugo-cho, Oshima-gun, Kagoshima Prefecture|
|building use||Resort Complex|
|site area||9963.4 m2|
|building area||Retaurant Building 327.29 m2; 2-Key Villa（x10）88.35 m2; Pool Villa（x3） 55.23 m2|
|total floor area||Retaurant Building 400.58 m2; 2-Key Villa（x10） 74.53 m2; Pool Villa（x3） 55.23 m2|
|floor number||Retaurant Building / 2; 2-Key & Pool Villas / 1|
|architectural design||Yasuhiro Yamashita x （Ben Matsuno + Atelier TEKUTO + Amami Design Firm）|
|constructional design||Jun Sato, Kenichi Inoue / Jun Sato Structural Engineers Co., Ltd.|
|facility design||Hiroyuki Yamada / YMO (preliminary design) ; Tetsuhito Shoji / BE Link|
|illumination design||Miki Matsushita, Naoki Takayama, Hiroaki Miyake / Miki Matsushita Lighting Design (preliminary design)|
|cooperative company||Hiroshi Yanagihara / Mindscape Ltd.（preliminary landscape design）Norito Takahashi, Yusuke Nakao / Jamo Associates (interior design)|
|construction management||Hatakeyama Construction Co., Ltd.; Takeyama Construction Co., Ltd|