It is as though nature is whispering, in Kyoto, even if its recurring events leave their unequivocal touch with the passing of each season. Cherry trees break into blossom in the spring, moss basks in the shade of luxuriant trees in the summer, maples which turn red in the autumn and the silent cloak of snow which resets the cycle, in preparation for all things new.
Therefore, it was only natural that Kyoto, so reluctant to reveal its secrets, was selected by the Four Seasons as the perfect solution for guests who have every intention of discovering these treasures. The actual resort site certainly makes this easier: the near thousand-year-old garden Shakusuien Ikeniwa is located a few minutes away from the centre and is immersed in centuries of history. For Hirsch Bedner Associates, the studio which designed the project, consideration of the place’s uniqueness becomes an intellectual elaboration both of mankind’s ties with nature, and of the continuity of a symbolically rich tradition of spaces and elements. Narrative structures are almost always supported by a highly evident geometry which is inserted as a rhythmic sign between fragments of greenery and the pond’s placid waters.
Hosts are welcomed in the lobby, along a bamboo forest which leads to a sanctuary. This spacious interior was designed in collaboration with the Japanese artist Ramon Todo and is reminiscent of a Zen garden, with its Aji stone pavements, moved by plays on light created by brise-soleils in shoji paper, fluttering along ample glass walls.
The 123 rooms and suites, along with 57 residences, reinterpret traditional Japanese homes and the regal concision of their forms. Recurring elements include: oak wood flooring, tatami, washi paper lampshades, bathrooms with stone walls and a luxurious rain shower which simulates a water fall in a bamboo forest.
This refined Four Season’s hospitality extends to an array of other services: a wedding chapel, a spa with heated pool, a dance hall, the Shakusui-tei tea house, meeting rooms, where overall simplicity is teased by intricate sculptures, and four refreshments and dining facilities, including the brasserie designed by Kokaistudios, located between the hall and garden, becoming the main public space, representative of the entire resort.
The long façade between the restaurant and garden, along the entire hotel complex’s northern side, is a transparent diaphragm over the landscape. It constitutes a core around which the interior develops, according to a clean and imperative wooden architecture, defining three different functions. A double-height lounge area is located at the entrance, with a bar in the central area, characterised by a continuous, 15-metre-long stone counter made using an ancient local artisan technique, and lastly the dining room, featuring a series of bamboo structures conceived as nests which invite you to retreat and withdraw. Meticulous attention to the selection and processing of materials is completed with the choice of European furnishings for outdoor areas.
Client/Owner: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Architectural and interior design: Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA)
Interior design Brasserie: Kokaistudios
Main suppliers: Stone, Antolini Luigi & C., G.A Co., Henge
Furnishings: Armani Casa, Dedar, Garrett Leather, Gervasoni, Hosoo, Japan Sakura Seisakusho, Manas, Ritzwell, Tiger Leather, Veranda
Lighting: Ricardo Lighting
Timber: Maruhon, Tabu
Carpets: Brintons Carpet Singapore, Couristan Carpets
Wallcovering: Goodrich Global Singapore, Tapetex bv, Teruki Ishigani Sangetsu
Shoji paper/Urushi material: Eriko Horiki Ass (feature wall), Kamism, Precious Pieces (Hiro Odaira), Yamauchi Urushi
Photo credits: Will Pryce, Seth Powers (Brasserie)