Architecture Awards 2020

90 2020 Architecture Awards BUILD Jul20180 Best Architectural Design & Construction Management Company – Japan & Best Contemporary Private Home Design Project (Japan): Shell House ono Mirai is changing the landscape of architecture and showing us how structures can be built with minimal impact on the environment while retaining a breath-taking aesthetic. With its smooth features and intelligent use of the environment to maintain warmth and battle humidity, his recent project, the Shell House, is not only good for the environment, but good for the soul. The incredible project is located in Karuizawa, Nagano, a summer resort in Japan. The area can reach minus 15 degrees in the winter, but in the summer, can be very humid. The building itself is surrounded by beautiful woodland. It is the perfect spot for a work of art like the one Tono Mirai has crafted there. The structure perfectly reflects the form and flow of nature, principles that are close to Tono Mirai’s heart. From the outside, the shell-shaped building looks like something out of a fantasy world. It flows up out of the ground and peaks at the front with a sun-shading eave sheltering a huge wall of windows. The open front of the house seems to invite the surrounding forest inside, breaching the gap between the human living space and the natural world outside. The inside of the building amplifies the soft, three-dimensional, tender space, with fluid curves incorporated into every aspect T of the building. Tono Mirai did away with traditional Japanese architecture, which emphasises wooden pillars and beams, as “the straight and modern form is not matched to the surrounding forest – the place evokes in me the life force of nature.” An airy and light kitchen area fills the space between the intersection of the large glass walls, with a cosy dining area sequestered to the side. A beautifully incorporated staircase winds up the second floor floating-platform bedroom. Everything is open, airy, and soft to the eye and touch. It is clean and minimal, and simply looking at it can make you feel relaxed. Tono Mirai works with an earthen material to build the walls. The earth wall is flexible and mouldable, allowing him to create the unique shapes and craft the curvaceous and organic space. For structure and accenting, he used a more organic timber, avoiding all laminated woods and plywood. In fact, the earthen material and the timber are all sourced from within 150km of the local region. The only cement used in the building was in the foundation. Tono Mirai managed to create the ultimate balance of materials and form. In order to make the house as sustainable as possible, the design leans into passive solutions that incorporate nature in intelligent ways. The long eaves above the south and east glass openings protect the inside from direct sunlight heat during the summer. However, they are designed so specifically that, during winter, they allow the sunlight to penetrate deeper into the house and warm it, because of the lower angle of the sun. It is an incredibly genius method of keeping the structure warmer when it needs it, but cooler during the hotter months. Tono Mirai is already a multi-award-winning designer, an we are very pleased to award him with two more accolades, the Best Architectural Design & Construction Management Company – Japan and the Best Contemporary Private Home Design Project (Japan): Shell House. In the future, Tono Mirai wants to take his designs all over the world and he will be exhibiting at the extensive biennial architecture exhibition, Time Space Existence in Venice 2021. Company: Tono Mirai Architects Contact: Tono Mirai Website: Forget everything you thought you knew about architecture – Tono Mirai is re-writing all the rules. He is an architect with a beautiful dedication to the idea of using the earth as a building material, and pushing the boundaries on local, organic, and sustainable materials. Tono Mirai truly deserves both the Best Architectural Design & Construction Management Company – Japan and the Best Contemporary Private Home Design Project (Japan): Shell House awards. Photo Credits: takeshi noguchi