Kengo Kuma’s famed Water/Glass project is positioned on a steep hillside in the resort city of Atami in Shizuoka. Sitting directly above Bruno Taut’s Kyu Hyuga Bettei, the contrast between the old and new could not be more distinct, and yet…
As noted on Kengo Kuma and Associates website, “The design of this villa was influenced greatly by “Hyuga” Villa, the sole project which Bruno Taut had left in Japan. The design also gained influences by the philosophies of Taut. Taut’s stay in Japan lasted from 1933 until 1936. Meanwhile, his praise over Katsura Palace was ever-lasting. The reasoning for his commendation lied in the fact that the Palace frames the nature yet frames by being one with nature.
Taut specifically paid attention to mechanisms in Katsura Palace that provoked the framing of nature with nature: the eaves and the bamboo verandas. Thus, in our villa, a layer of water which gently covers the building edges signified bamboo verandas in Katsura. Moreover, a stainless louver that roofs the water signified the eaves. The water surface stretches further out and unites the surface with the Pacific Ocean. And on top of the joined surface, a glass box floats. As the box is super-imposed numerous times, refraction of materials brings in reflections of sorts. The relationship between the subject and the environment is challenged upon in various manners by re-defining and re-shaping the Katsura philosophy, yet always maintaining its fundamental essence.”
Originally built as a private guest house, it is now the ATAMI Kaihourou, a luxury hotel. A rare opportunity was recently presented to photograph its famed Water Balcony, but what I discovered was that from the ground on up, the structure was amazing … and photogenic.