Sitting in a narrow landscape is MOGANA Hotel, in the Nakagyo Ward district, in Kyoto, Japan. Under such limitation and a watchful eye of Japanese convention, creativity comes forth as a reaction with novel and inventive propositions for the slender building. The creation by Takashi Yamaguchi & Associates offers a luxurious monochrome experience in hospitality with plenty of callbacks to traditional elements.
To enter the hotel, it is to walk along a clean passageway, as a contemporary ‘kyo-machiya’, such a pathway is common in traditional inns for instance. The architects chose to open with a clear statement of both respect and a clear vision of updating the welcoming area with a mix of digital light and sounds. After setting the tone for a revival of an old promenade, the main social hub and concierge room directs the guest’s attention to an intrinsic combination of dusky tones and a Japanese garden—planted with camellia, arrow bamboo, and paved with black slate from Kumano in Mie Prefecture.
The architects comment on the importance of the local heritage:
Small inner courtyards called “Tsuboniwa” are to be placed in a Kyo-machiya, bringing in light and climate control into the long and narrow sites. Such is the traditional wisdom of the people in Kyoto, and this project employs and reinterprets this wisdom.
After checking in, guests would walk through the latticed corridor, heading towards the lobby and library, while being drawn to a large video screen showcasing Japan’s Four Seasons. The proposition to visually intervene with the dimmed and tranquil mood of the ambient, points to a bold direction, daring to send a clear jolt of brightness and colour.
As guests enter their rooms, a striking ample window faces a vertical garden. From floor to ceiling, the amplitude and the visual protagonism is undeniable, as the vibrant green becomes part of the room. It is important to note the attention to detail for each room, as customised decors with different materials being used in the walls, floors, and ceilings. A distinct experience for each level and positioning.
MOGANA Hotel embodies contemporary Japanese minimalism, famous throughout the world; as well as a deeper understanding of local customs of Kyoto. It is both a respectful nod to the traditional city around it, and a brave bid to what it may become in the future.