The timber-wrought wellness retreat developed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban is nearing completion on the island of Awaji in Japan. Referred to as ‘a place where you can experience zen,’ guests to Zenbo Seinei will be able to disconnect in a variety of ways, including through yoga atop the strikingly linear observation deck that overlooks the lush forests below.
“We planned an accommodation facility where you can experience zazen on a small site with abundant nature on Awaji Island,” explained Shigeru Ban Architects.
“Amidst this [the pandemic], there has been a growing interest in opportunities to reassess one’s own contentment in environments rich in nature, and in lifestyles that promote physical and mental well-being,” stated the Pasona Group, which oversees many of the facilities on Awaji Island, including Zenbo Seinei
The site is expected to open in the spring of this year.
Timber and Steel Provide a Bridge-Like Path to Reflection
The slender, wooden ‘bridge’ juts out across the ridge along the 135-degree meridian, which was originally used to establish Japanese standard time. Starting from a tree-lined ridge, it will run 90 meters out into the open air where yoga sessions and reflective walks can be held. Supports on one side will be established by steel columns, while the rest of the structure, from the trusses to the archways, will be constructed entirely by timber.
This follows in line with Shigeru Ban Architects’ exploration of timber architecture that has been seen in their other projects, including the Swatch and Omega Campus as well as recent collaborations with UN-habitat in the development of several shelter typologies for a pilot neighborhood in Kenya. The project, prototyped in 2020 is informed by the extensive experience of the architects with disaster relief projects.
Once complete, the bridge will adjoin another 3,000-square-meter facility where Shigeru Ban Architects will also work in constructing an expansive open-air bathing section, as well as a café area spread across a series of wooden huts. The onsite menu will pull mainly from local fare and tofu-inspired dishes, while also serving traditional meals often enjoyed by Buddhist monks.