Shigeru Ban Architects Designs Wellness Retreat in Japan

Shigeru Ban Architects designed a retreat for wellness on Japan’s Awaji island. A bridge-like wooden structure suspended above lush landscape provides visitors with a Zen experience. The Vierendeel timbergirder allows for a 21-metre span, and a substantial cantilever at one end of the structure’s 90-metre length. Zenbo Seinei, which will be a retreat that focuses on meditation and healthy eating, is currently in construction. It is expected to open this spring.

The project is elevated on steel columns and occupies a lush green area on Awaji Island’s northern side. The main timber structure was constructed along the 135-degree meridian. This meridian was used for the establishment of Japan Standard Time. The open-air observation deck will be used as a meditation studio and a place to rest. The 3,00 m2 site will also include a number of cabins, a café, and an open-air bathtub.

© Shigeru Ban Architects

This project is Shigeru Ban Architects continuing their exploration of timber architecture. Examples include the Omega Campus in Switzerland, Shishi-Iwa House, Japan, and the Aspen Art Museum. The studio has been working with UN-Habitat in recent years. It has developed shelter types for several pilot neighborhoods in Kalobeyei Settlement, Kenya. This project was prototyped in 2020 and is informed by Shigeru Ban Architects’ extensive experience with disaster relief projects as well as the local building techniques.