The design concept of the Loft is derived primarily from the special attributes of its site and environs. Donguri Avenue in Niseko's Hirafu Village is unique in that it runs along a ridgeline, the lots on which have the best and most unobstructed views of an extraordinary extinct volcano that towers to the southeast nearby. Unhindered views to this powerful landscape feature add tremendous value and desirability to those limited number of lots in this part of the village that benefit from it.

Project Type: Hotels/Resorts

Completion: January 2014

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The architectural design concept of the Loft is derived primarily from the special attributes of its site and environs. Donguri Avenue in Niseko's Hirafu Village is unique in that it runs along a ridgeline, the lots on which have the best and most unobstructed views of an extraordinary extinct volcano that towers to the southeast nearby. Unhindered views to this powerful landscape feature add tremendous value and desirability to those limited number of lots in this part of the village that benefit from it.

Our design philosophy is to allow the site and its special attributes, such as views, light and physical accessibility, environmental character and vernacular traditions as well as adjacent buildings and significant features dictate the architectural form and general planning of the project in a manner that is grounded specifically to that site. In this manner the architecture becomes unique and relevant. Layered on top of this consideration of course is the client's brief and commercial intent, budget and schedule goals as well as statutory parameters. All of these considerations are addressed simultaneously in the act of creation that we know as the "sketch design", which results in the embryonic form of the architecture that is subsequently tested and refined.

In the case of the Loft, these considerations included the unique features mentioned earlier, and our goal was to provide optimum views of the Mt. Yotei volcano to each apartment, celebrate light and space with high ceilings, expansive windows and open planning, and to provide maximum four-season functionality through efficient room planning, state of the art infrastructure and strategically located storage compartments for ski equipment as well as long-term owner storage.

The top two penthouses have direct and secure elevator access right into the apartment vestibules. The apartment planning incorporates higher than standard ceilings wherever possible with floor to ceiling windows. Rooms are purposefully open and unencumbered, doors are floor to ceiling wherever possible and in some cases retract into walls to enhance the character of openness and extend panoramic views.   Interior material and furniture selections, by YOO, a Philippe Starck owned interior design company, are natural wood and stone for the most part, and concrete walls are formed up with deep-grain wood boards to emphasize their organic character. Some rooms employ contemporary wall coverings with a modern geometric texture, and lobby and stair floor finishes are selected for maximum comfort and noise dampening for residents and visitors in ski boots.

The mechanical and thermal equipment is state-of the art and highly energy efficient. This includes a concealed perimeter radiator system that that requires low energy consumption for optimum winter comfort. Vacuum-sealed double-glazing is high quality, low-energy transmission type. All light fixtures are LED for a 90% reduction in lighting electricity costs. External walls are heavily insulated. While all the apartments are air-conditioned as well, summer cooling can mostly be accomplished utilizing strategically located window openings for optimum natural ventilation.

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Niseko, Hokkaido

LOFT NISEKO