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Dublin: 11 °C Tuesday 7 July, 2020
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The hotel that acts as a wind instrument

A lakeside location and an Aeolian harp inspires this meditative space in Japan.

Source: Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect via r-a-architects.com

WELCOME TO HOTEL Ecotone in the Shiga prefecture of Japan.

It’s not your average lakeside hotel – not least because a central part of its design is to harness the refreshing breezes that gust in from the water and use them to create a pleasing acoustic landscape for guests.

Architects Ryuichi Ashizawa oversaw the completion of the hotel last year. There are elements of traditional Japanese architecture complementing the interior, eg, sliding panels and wood dividers:

Source: Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect via r-a-architects.com

Source: Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect via r-a-architects.com

But the use of traditional materials extends to the use of poured concrete, while never once not looking like it is part of its environment. Partition walls are made using traditional mixing of plastering and soil.

This, for example, is how the Ecotone Hotel fits neatly into the grassy slope down to the lake:

Source: Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect via r-a-architects.com

The transition between land and water is made by linking the two spaces with a number of different features – two small inner lakes created by rainwater, woodland to the east side and the interrupted gradations of the building, as seen in the picture above.

And feast your eyes on those interiors:

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Source: Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect via r-a-architects.com

Source: Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect via r-a-architects.com

But this is the truly special bit. The ‘chapel’ area which the architect says is an interpretation of an Aeolian Harp – “it’s a space that plays sound when the wind passes through”.

Source: Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect via r-a-architects.com

Here it is from the inside – native larch is used to shape the curved dome with structural plywood to the outside.

You can just see an upper ‘airway’ formed by wire tautened to a certain pitch that vibrates when touched by the wind. The tone can actually be controlled by opening and closing a portion of it – essentially, the building can be ‘played’ as an instrument:

Source: Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect via r-a-architects.com

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About the author:

Sally O'Regan

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