Lakeside hotel by Ryuichi Ashizawa adjoins a wedding chapel with a musical facade

Harp strings fixed across the facade turn this hotel chapel on a lakeside site in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, into a huge musical instrument when the wind blows (+ slideshow).

Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates

The Setre Marina Hotel and Sound of Wind Chapel, both designed by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates, are located on the shoreline of Lake Biwa near the city of Moriyama.

Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates

The chapel – named after its funnel-like structure that amplifies from a tiny cave-like opening towards the shoreline – adjoins one side of the three-storey hotel.

Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates

A row of harp strings pulled taut across the opening of the golden plywood structure reverberate in the wind, effectively converting the chapel into a huge musical instrument.

The pitch and tone of the sounds created depend on the speed and direction of the breeze.

Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates

"We sought to make the project as an instrument played by the natural wind, a stringed instrument like the one present in Greek mythology, used by the god of the wind, Aeolus," explained the architects.

"It is a calm space that echoes the sound of the waves of Lake Biwa at all times."

Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates

Used for wedding ceremonies, the chapel has an adjoining bridal suite and banquet hall in the hotel – a three-storey structure featuring a graduated concrete facade.

Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates

Bedrooms are arranged side-by-side along the lake-facing aspect of this building. Its tiered facade creates space for grassy terraces outside each room and a rooftop viewing platform, which the architects said helps to blend the reinforced concrete structure with its natural setting.

Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates

The zigzagging edge of each floor is supported by sloping slabs of concrete set at right-angles to the glass facade. These concrete wedges create a regimented pattern across the lake-facing wall, which is mirrored at the rear by a grid of black-framed glass.

Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates

Although the hotel has a modern reinforced-concrete structure, traditional techniques and materials were included throughout the interior, from coarse-textured partitions made using plaster and soil, to a dirt floor in the entrance hall.

Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates

Trees planted to the east of the building are expected to mature into a patch of woodland, and two artificial ponds dug into a strip of land between the hotel and the lake are intended to create a link between the manmade and the natural landscapes.

Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates

"By using plants in this project, we provide a lot of contact through soil, natural light, water, wind, trees; such as sound and smells," said the architects.

Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates

Photography is by Kaori Ichikawa.


Project credits:

Project architect: Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects
Landscape architecture: Inada Junichi – WIN
Lighting designer: Izumi Okayasu – Izumi Okayasu Lighting Design
Structural engineer: S3 Associates
Earth wall structure experiment cooperation: Hirokazu Touki laboratory in The University of Shiga Prefecture
Mechanical engineer: Eiji Sato – ES Associates
Acoustic design cooperation: Kousuke Nakagawa
Simulation environment cooperation: Yuichiro Kodama laboratory in Kobe Design University
Plasterer supervision: Kumiko Hatanaka
Client: Seitei Kosan Co Ltd
Construction: TODA corporation

Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates
Site plan – click for larger image
Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates
First floor plan – click for larger image
Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates
Second floor plan – click for larger image
Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates
Roof plan – click for larger image
Eco-Thon Hotel in Lake Biwa by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates
Chapel plan – click for larger image