Shishi-Iwa House

Designed by: Shigeru Ban Architects
For client: HDHP GK Floor area: 557.00 M² Year of completion: 2019
Submitted for: Hotel of the Year

Ssh Grand Room
© Hiroyuki Hirai

The Grand Room is a shared social space where guests can convene for lively discussions or exchanges.

About the Project

Located in Karuizawa, a mountain resort town in Nagano, Japan, Shishi-Iwa House is a two-storey restorative retreat that reinforces the relationship between nature, architecture and human connection. Developed by HDHP GK, the genesis of Shishi-Iwa House began with an interest to use architecture as a means to provide a sanctuary and promote intellectual creativity through architecture, art and design. The objective is to have a place to reflect, restore and reconnect, providing a respite from the increasingly invasive digital world. Celebrating exceptional craftsmanship with simple materials and biophilic designs, the property also strives to reduce excess and create a sustainable environment that honours the fundamental connection of human and nature.

With pioneering work in both paper tube and mass timber construction, Shigeru Ban is renowned for his structural and material innovations as well as commitment to humanitarian relief projects worldwide. Given the common vision, Shigeru Ban was chosen to be the architect and interior designer for the project. In response to the site’s context, Ban experimented with the use of natural materials and came up with a never-been-used construction methodology. From the construction to the furniture and interior detailing, every detail was carefully considered to achieve a bespoke atmosphere within the property.

What’s unique about it

Shishi-Iwa House is the first boutique hotel designed by Shigeru Ban, and is a pioneering project that is unlike any typical hotel or resort concepts. Embracing sustainability and connection between human and nature, its architectural and design elements work symbiotically to achieve its purpose as a restorative retreat.

Nestled in the woodlands, Shishi-Iwa House is crafted in a smooth, curvilinear form with an undulating roof that flows with the movement of the forest. Using a distinct design language and typology to befit its beautiful location, Shigeru Ban’s design reflects his tenacious exploration on materials and techniques. To minimise environmental impact, Ban developed the “PHP method” (“Plywood-Honeycomb-Plywood”) that has never been used in hotel construction. With the goal of conserving as many trees as possible, the timber structural frames were pre-fabricated, transported and assembled on site.

The selection of simple, sustainable materials, colour tones and lighting were carefully curated to create a heightened sense of warmth and homogeneity throughout the property. From its structure, finishing material and exterior timber cladding, timber was the material of choice. Embracing the concept of social hospitality, unique openings between the private and shared community spaces were created to blend the interior and exterior, showcasing a seamless flow of spaces with unique humanistic qualities that facilitates discoveries and connections.

Resort Shishi Iwa House 06
© Hiroyuki Hirai

Nestled within serene, verdant woods, Shishi-Iwa House is a two-storey retreat crafted in a smooth, curvilinear form with an undulating roof that flows with the movement of the forest.

Ssh Balcony Views
© Hiroyuki Hirai

One of the four Guest Rooms that includes a private balcony terrace, having views of both front and back of the outdoor garden.

Ssh Guestroom Ground Floor
© Hiroyuki Hirai

Guest Rooms on the lower floor opens up to scenic views of Mount Asama or the private garden.

Ssh Grand Room View Of Garden
© Hiroyuki Hirai

Interior items are also carefully curated to complement the resort as a sophisticated and intellectual retreat. All tableware is by Miyama, one of the oldest traditional ceramic makers in Japan, to curate a thoughtful dining experience at the Grand Room.

Ssh Exterior Grand Room Dusk
© Hiroyuki Hirai

Shishi-Iwa House's Grand Room and outdoor pavilion at night.

Ssh Library 2
© Hiroyuki Hirai

Opening up to the outdoor pavilion, Shishi-Iwa House's Library and Reception Room features Shigeru Ban's signature paper tube furniture and an exquisite painting by Günther Förg.

Ssh Library 1
© Hiroyuki Hirai

Guests are welcomed into the hotel through imposing timber-framed glass doors – the largest of its kind in Japan – to enter the Library and Reception Room, where they will check-in.

Ssh Exterior
© Hiroyuki Hirai

Shishi-Iwa House is planted with a lush garden, featuring over 250 trees ranging from evergreens, cherry blossoms to Japanese maples, that transform in colour with the seasons and create a living backdrop for guests.

Ssh Exterior Dusk
© Hiroyuki Hirai

Shishi-Iwa House is a 10-room boutique resort designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. Situated in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan, Shishi-Iwa House is a restorative retreat that reinforces the relationship between nature, ar

An overview of Shishi-Iwa House


Shigeru Ban Architects

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