The sculptural shell-like structure was built in the forest of Karuizawa, located in the Nagano prefecture of Japan. The principals desired a residence which will be occupied as a vacation home, with frequent visits and to be used for many years to come. The low temperatures in Karuizawa along with the increased humidity levels make for a harsh climate. As a result many houses in the area with a traditional structure and construction are facing overwhelming decaying problems. With this in mind the architect came up with a large shell structure which floats above the ground and is constructed by reinforced concrete. Taking example from other villas of the nearby area which have not been used for many years, Kotaro Ide tried avoiding the common structure and materials used in the construction. The use of reinforced concrete for the residence will assist the residence in protecting itself from the high humidity levels and the cold. The exterior of the “Shell” residence is wrapped in the shell-like concrete structure finished with a penetrative sealer for concretes, which contrasts with the green landscape. Deck wood is used on the patio, while a small amphitheater-like structure has been created in the center of the house around a full-grown tree. Large double glazed openings allow for uninterrupted views of the nature from within the house. The interior architectural design of the residence follows the exterior form of the house; the walls are curved and have not been straightened. Instead features and furniture within the residence have been custom-made to meet the design requirements of the original structure. The architects paid careful attention to the design details for the comfort and the performance level of the residence. Cherry hardwood flooring is used throughout the residence, while oak has been used for some furniture which makes a lovely contrast with the flooring. Many furniture items have been custom designed as the shape and the structure of the walls makes it hard for regular furniture to fit in ideally. The communal spaces have been given use on the ground floor while the private spaces such as the bedrooms are located on the upper level.
“THE SHELL”_ Kotaro Ide_ARTechnic_Karuizawa, Nagano_JAPAN