Shishi-Iwa House, a collection of intimately crafted retreats in Japan, is delighted to announce the much-anticipated opening of SSH No.03, the newest addition to its exquisite architectural marvels nestled in the picturesque Karuizawa mountain resort town of Japan, just a mere hour by train from the bustling city of Tokyo.
This extraordinary retreat, thoughtfully designed by the renowned Pritzker Prize laureate and esteemed co-founder of SANAA, Ryue Nishizawa, is a haven for families and friends seeking respite from the frenetic pace of urban life, and a sanctuary that fosters the reawakening of intellectual creativity. Notably, SSH No.03 is Nishizawa’s inaugural foray into the realm of hotel design, and is a reverential ode to the rich heritage of traditional Japanese residential architecture.
SSH No.03 joins the ranks of SSH No.01 and SSH No.02, both masterpieces conceived by another esteemed Pritzker Prize laureate, Shigeru Ban, which were opened to great acclaim in 2018 and 2022, respectively. These three Houses, situated within mere minutes of each other, together form the prestigious SHISHI-IWA HOUSE KARUIZAWA, offering a rare opportunity for guests to immerse themselves in and compare the distinct architectural styles of these visionary maestros. Embodying the ethos of harmonious coexistence with nature, all three Houses are thoughtfully designed to seamlessly connect guests with their serene natural surroundings, while celebrating the beauty of simplicity in its purest form.
Comprising of 10 pavilions interconnected by graceful engawa, or covered walkways, and tranquil garden courtyards, SSH No.03 exudes an air of exclusivity with only 10 guest rooms and 1 cabin villa, offering both Western-style Superior Rooms and Tatami Suites. Drawing inspiration from the principles of spatial transparency and Ma, the Japanese concept of negative space, Nishizawa intentionally creates empty areas through minimal furnishings and adornments, allowing natural light to bathe the rooms in a continuous ethereal glow through expansive windows.
Each guest room is a standalone haven with windows on all four walls, providing an unparalleled connection with the surrounding forest and the internal Japanese gardens. Moreover, all units feature a seamlessly integrated wrapped terrace, blurring the boundaries between the interior and the exterior, inviting guests to revel in the splendours of nature.
The revered hinoki cypress wood takes centre stage in SSH No.03, sourced from the esteemed Gifu Prefecture in Japan. Nishizawa employs the distinctive hue and fragrance of this rare wood, renowned for its durability and aromatic scents, in both the structure and the interiors of the retreat, including fixed furnishings, resulting in a breathtakingly austere visual impact upon entering the rooms. Hinoki cypress holds a sacred status in Japanese culture, having been used for centuries to construct shrines, temples, and palaces. In keeping with the ethos of sustainability, SSH No.03 adheres to stringent standards by employing a small building footprint and utilising environmentally friendly timber sourced primarily from Japan.
A notable highlight, cherished by the architect himself, is the winding engawa walkway that meanders through the pavilions, creating inviting in-between spaces for serendipitous discoveries and quiet contemplation. The meticulously crafted landscape of SSH No.03 boasts of over hundreds of cherry, maple, and evergreen trees, carefully planted to create a captivating interplay of colours in every season. Four Japanese courtyards thoughtfully plotted along the walkway provide moments of profound stillness, completing a spiritual journey where guests can find oneness with nature – and with themselves. To further elevate the wellness experience, SSH No.03 features a bathhouse and tea house that harmoniously complement the Ma philosophy.