LocationKaruizawa, Kitasaku District, Nagano Prefecture, Japan
Structural Design CompanyS. Form / Akira Ouchi
From the architect. Karuizawa is known as the summer resort in Japan that John Lennon and Yoko Ono loved and frequently visited.
Cafe Aura stands on the top of a steep hill in Karuizawa, in a site with approximately 10000m2 in area at 1200m above sea level. From there you have beautiful views of Karuizawa Town below, and on sunny days you can enjoy fantastic panoramas of Japanese Southern Alps and Yatsugatake Mountains in the far distance.
Our client asked us three things. Firstly they asked us to incorporate the beautiful surrounding scenery in our design, so that they can fully enjoy the dramatic views. Their second request was a garden where they can host outdoor events, and also wanted guests to enjoy viewing such events while enjoying cozy time at the cafe. Thirdly they wanted some private place to retreat and refresh.
First we placed a long platform and set direction of view towards Karuizawa Town. Then the floor level was adjusted to fit into natural undulation of the mountain, because we think that one feels more secure and relaxed when the body stays closer to the ground. In order to provide the best views from cafe, we set up a scaffold on site and searched for the best viewpoints. As a result we came up with a shape of a bar bent at an obtuse angle and a garden in center. Views are directed towards the garden.
We used maximum-sized double-glazing for windows at the cafe. There you can enjoy outdoor events in the garden such as candle light nights, concerts and so on, with backdrop of fantastic panorama of distant mountains. From dusk to night the sky changes its colors minute by minute and eventually fades into darkness, and you can see numerous stars shining above. In order to avoid reflection of light fixture on glazing at night, we used pin spot lighting and painted some parts of the wall black.
The long cantilevered cafe terrace, extending away from the ground, gives a sense of floating in the sky. From counter seating mountains look so near that you feel as if they are moving towards you. Our intention is to provide different viewing experiences inside and outside of the cafe.