Shigeru Ban Architects designed a wellness retreat on Japan’s Awaji Island. The project features a bridge-like wooden structure suspended above the lush landscape, providing visitors with a zen experience. The Vierendeel timber girder allows for a 21-metre span and a significant cantilever on one end of the 90-metre long structure. The Zenbo Seinei retreat, which will focus on meditation and healthy food, is currently under construction and is set to open this spring.
Elevated on steel columns, the project occupies a lush green site on the northern part of Awaji Island. The main timber structure was built along the meridian 135-degree meridian, which was used to establish Japan Standard Time. The project will feature a restaurant and accommodation, while the open-air observation deck is intended as a studio for zazen, a form of meditation. Also, on the 3,00 square metre site, the design will comprise a series of cabins, a café and an open-air bath.
The project continues Shigeru Ban Architects’ exploration of timber architecture, showcased in projects such as the Swatch and Omega Campus in Switzerland, the Shishi-Iwa House in Japan or the Aspen Art Museum. In recent years, the studio has continued its collaboration in UN-Habitat, having designed developed several shelter typologies for a pilot neighbourhood in Kalobeyei Settlement in Kenya. The project, prototyped in 2020, is informed by the extensive experience of Shigeru Ban Architects with disaster relief projects and the building techniques of local people.