Nest at Amami Beach Villas
By Yasuhiro25-12-2018Popularity:2030 Comments

Project : Nest at Amami Beach Villas
Architect : Yasuhiro Yamashita x (Atelier TEKUTO + Amami Design Firm)

Nest at Amami Beach Villas —-In-between the Sky and the Sea

(Text by Yasuhiro Yamashita)

This resort complex is located in my birthplace of Amami Oshima, a subtropical island halfway between Okinawa and the southern tip of Kyushu (the most southwestern island of the four main islands of Japan.)

Amami Oshima, with a population of 60 thousand, is the largest of the Amami Islands, an archipelago listed for registration for the UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites. It is an island easily accessible, with Amami Airport boasting 44 incoming and outgoing flights a day.

Its unique culture and natural environment have been preserved for thousands of years. Amamian culture is renowned for its folk songs and dances, influenced by cultures of both the Ryukyu Dynasty of Okinawa and the Satsuma Domain which covered a large part of Kyushu during the Edo period (1603-1868.) It has forests rich in flora and fauna such as dark-furred Amami rabbits and is surrounded by beautiful beaches with coral reefs.

Sugarcane and fruit farming are currently its major industries. It still carries on the tradition of Oshima Tsumugi textile production (silk kimono fabric dyed with mud, rich in iron) which used to be the key industry in the past.

In spite of all its beauty based on its natural environment preserved from antiquity and its adorable culture, one thing Amami lacked was luxurious accommodations for high-end travelers.

I personally bore the responsibility of searching for the ideal site for a resort complex, starting in March 2015, the construction began in August of 2016 and completion was achieved in November 2017. The complex is comprised of 3 types of buildings: an administration building with the hotel reception and restaurant, 3 luxury pool villas and 10 semi-detached villas, totaling 14 buildings with 23 guest rooms.

The sloped site faces the sea to the southeast with a height difference of 25 meters. Tranquility and intimacy dominates the gentle path leading down to a beautiful beach on the quiet inland sea. The landscape was constructed in such a way as to restore the original indigenous seascape of Amami and embed the structures into the surrounding vegetation and nature.

The form of the Pool Villas, developed together with the structural engineer, was inspired by traditional Amamian raised-floor granaries, traditional local hip-and-gable roofed houses and also conch-shells found in Amami.

The exterior walls and roofs are clad with silver-gray wood planks developed for this project. I experimented with locally sourced Itajii (Castanopsis sieboldii) lumber and applied the same traditional mud-dyeing method used for dying the Oshima Tsumugi textile. The Itajii wood rich in tannin, when soaked in the iron-rich mud of Amami, hosts a chemical reaction that turns the wood into a deep gray color.

The roofs of the other structures also use this material.

The semi-detached villas named 2-Key Villas repeat the same pair of plans, rhythmically staggering their positions both plan-wise and section-wise. Half of the 2-Key Villas can also be used as a suite connected via the terrace.

Two large roofs of the restaurant building overlap each other at odd angles, protruding dynamically, giving the space a swirling feel and multilayered complexity.

Such architectural forms and multilayered space all come from an underlying concept, “Designing the In-betweens” that ties the whole project together.

Designing the In-betweens
(Text by Yasuhiro Yamashita)

Amami Oshima has been the site of numerous conflicts and battles throughout its history. It has been repeatedly claimed in turns by both the Ryuku Dynasty and Satsuma Domain since the medieval era all through to the Edo period. After World War II, it was governed by the United States for 8 years until it was returned to Japan in 1953.

It can be said that the identity of Amami has always found its stand in between others, both geographically and historically.

I believe the commission to design this resort complex came to me for several reasons. Being from this island, having created numerous pieces of characteristic architecture with compact spaces, and having developed original construction methods and structures utilizing local materials of various regions and having researched resort facilities for a long period of time.

Upon embarking on this project, I not only studied the history, nature and vegetation of Amami, but also conducted an extensive survey of the existing accommodation facilities on the island. Through the process, I arrived at the conclusion that affair of designing in and for Amami is a matter of “designing the in-betweens.”

The concept can be broken down into five aspects.

Achieving the sense of self liberation in between the vast sky and the sea. Restoring the local indigenous vegetation which has deteriorated, placed in between nature and human activity Combining the sense of tradition and newness together in between traditional and new architecture Developing a material for architecture unique to Amami in between methods of traditional industries and new materials Providing a wide variety of accommodation facilities and food services in between times, before Amami Islands is formally enlisted as a UNESCO natural heritage site.

Designing the in-betweens is by no means a negative mindset. I regard this concept as a new way of making progress through defining one’s own standpoint, learning from history, breaking the status quo, and to take control of one’s own future.

General Information

completion date  November 2017

location Tatsugo-cho, Oshima-gun, Kagoshima Prefecture

building use  Resort Complex

site area  9963.4 m2

building area  Restaurant & Administration Building 327.29 m2
                       Ocean Villa & Hillside Villa(x5 each)88.35 m2
                       Pool Villa(x3) 55.23 m2

total floor area  Restaurant & Administration Building 400.58 m2
                         Ocean Villa & Hillside Villa
(x5 each)74.53 m2
                         Pool Villa(x3) 55.23 m2

construction  wood

number of floors  Restaurant & Administration Building 2
                            Ocean Villa & Hillside Villas, 
Pool Villas 1

architectural design  
Yasuhiro Yamashita, Ben Matsuno (Atelier TEKUTO + Amami Design Firm)

structural engineering 
Jun Sato, Kenichi Inoue (Jun Sato Structural Engineers Co., Ltd.)

MEP engineering Hiroyuki Yamada ( YMO ;preliminary design)
                         Tetsuhito Shoji (BE Link)

preliminary lighting design Miki Matsushita, Naoki Takayama,
                                 Hiroaki Miyake ( Miki Matsushita Lighting Design )

preliminary landscape design  Hiroshi Yanagihara (Mindscape Ltd.)

interior design  Norito Takahashi, Yusuke Nakao ( Jamo Associates )

construction  Hatakeyama Construction Co., Ltd.
                      Takeyama Construction Co., Ltd

Photographer  SOBAJIMA, Toshihiro


Restaurant & Administration Building, exterior view

Restaurant & Administration Building, reception area



Restroom in the Restaurant & Administration Building

Restaurant terrace

Restaurant terrace

key: resort hotel, villa-style hotel
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