Satoshi Okada’s forest retreat in the foothills of Mount Fuji, Japan is one that intentionally is intended as the shadow itself, set against its incredible natural surroundings. Completed in 2000 and covering just over 138sqm, the Mount Fuji House was designed as a secondary element to the site. This opposes, in quite an impactful and stunning way, that the architects have exercised overt sensitivity to the complexity of the buildings’ context.
In terms of the façade, the black represents a shadow in the forest. Alike much of its Japanese structural colleagues, this villa and guesthouse is constructed from timber. The outer wall is made of Japanese cedar, stained in black, the colour of lava, for the memory of the site. It also provides a dark band between the greens, where the house in the black represents a shadow in the forest. The retreat features a combination of two volumes, the larger housing a double height row of dining, kitchen, and a loft above and the smaller comprising a main hall, which connects the stacked bedroom elements and bathroom facilities also.
I find this retreat and its subtlety quite dramatic. Perhaps due to the contrast of materials, or the connection usually related to black in a forest setting to be the death of a space. In this case, I see it as very much alive. The architect’s intentions that the building should be lost in the shadow of the park, I think, have been achieved seamlessly.
Photography courtesy of Satoshi Okada Architects & Katsuhisa Kida