On a slope facing Mt. Asama at Karuizawa, the famous Japanese summer resort, this villa was planned to look as though it is floating in a stand of trees. The building is immersed in the natural environment; the trees are amplified by being reflected on the inside of the villa from every aspect within the living space. Mirrored walls reflect the light and add to the feeling of space and as people walk through, the reflected views give a kaleidoscopic visual effect. Built in 2005 this residence was built as a family retreat for a couple and their daughter. The aim of this project was to create a home that gave the occupants the sense of being at one with nature.
Small but perfectly formed, Villa Kaleidoscope's open design combined with extensive glazing promotes the impression of spaciousness. Intended by the architect to resemble a small mushroom growing under a large tree, the design optimises the interior space through optical props, creating permanence between outside and in.
A simply designed interior has character without clutter. With clean lines a modern and contemporary look is created, along with a feeling of openness, replicating the serenity of the natural environment into the interior space of the house. The outside scene is brought into the house through the use of carefully placed mirrors, which reflect the surrounding natural landscape. The number of trees appears amplified by being reflected on the inside of the building.
The structure is in two parts; the ground floor is made from reinforced concrete and the larger upper floor is made from wood and extends on all sides beyond the lower floor. The exterior walls of both floors are roughly hexagonal in shape with the interior walls laid out in honeycomb fashion. There is a natural rhythm to which this design has adhered to, the roof for instance is slightly irregular and melts into the surrounding environment, acting as a harmoniser between nature and the human elements.
The timber-clad exterior blends the structure into its woodland setting. Reminiscent of a tree house the building seems to float within the surrounding vegetation, integrating seamlessly within its tranquil setting. Japanese cypress is used extensively throughout. The flooring is Birch and plywood is used on much of the furniture and surroundings. The palette of the internal walls has been selected to compliment the seasonal variations. The cream yellow colour of the inner walls is intended to blend the building and the autumn leaves, when the landscape is at its most scenic.
The upper level contains the main living areas are all constructed around a traditional raised tatami room. The tatami room occupies the centre of the building surrounded by the terrace, the living room, the kitchen and the bathroom. Although each room is small, the open layout gives an impression of space and allows a view of the outside from most aspects within. Occupants are immersed in the natural environment from wherever they are in the building.
ARCHITECT: CELL SPACE ARCHITECTS