a resort on a hill overlooking a body of water

BIG’s NOT A HOTEL fosters a dialogue between Japanese and Scandinavian design values

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an aerial view of BIG's NOT A HOTEL inspired Japanese and Scandinavian design on an island

Bjarke Ingels Group unveiled more details about their collaboration with NOT A HOTEL, a new resort on Sagi Island, Japan. The design aims to create a dialogue between Japanese and Scandinavian design. BIG and NOT A HOTEL’s partnership began in 2022 for building a new resort around Japan. BIG’s NOT A HOTEL is located on Sagishima island and sits on 30.000 sqm of land with a panoramic view of the Seto Inland Sea.

Shinji Hamauzu, CEO and Founder of NOT A HOTEL said, “In the last few decades, Japan has been attracting attention as a place to experience stunning natural landscapes as well as high-end design, innovative architecture, and cutting-edge art. The Seto Inland Sea area, where NOT A HOTEL SETOUCHI will be built, brings together all of these aspects of Japanese tourism into a single site. In partnering with BIG, we are creating one of Japan’s most luxurious villas on Sagi Island, which will be a gateway for more people to experience the charm of the Setouchi region.”

an aerial view of NOT A HOTEL inspired Japanese architecture on a small island

The project’s master plan includes restoring surrounding sites. Grass will be harvested before construction begins, while olive trees, lemon trees, and other native vegetation will be reintroduced to enhance the site’s natural beauty. The resort’s three villas are 360, 270, and 180; the names came from their locations on the sites. By using different degrees, designers aim to blend architecture and landscape.

Each villa of BIG’s NOT A HOTEL has its own characteristics, which are directly in cooperation with their specific locations. For instance, the circular villa 360 is located at the highest location of the project and has a great view of Setouchi. Villa 270 captures a 270-degree panoramic view of the surroundings. The 180 villa is located at the closest location to the sea; its form follows the coastline.

an aerial view of a circular structure inspired Japanese architecture

“Our design approach for NOT A HOTEL Setouchi wasn’t about imposing our ideas on the site; instead, it involved exploring, observing, and understanding the landscape. We envisioned how to best leverage this distinctive and remarkable terrain and fixed upon a design that mirrors the elegance of traditional Japanese architecture.” said Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director, of BIG, and added, “Japan is one of the cultures in the world where commitment to craft and care for quality remains intact. The honesty and simplicity of the structure and careful choice of materials can be said to have greatly influenced the traditional architecture of Japan and the modern architecture of Denmark. Maybe that’s why when I go to Japan, I always feel like I’m coming home. NOT A HOTEL Setouchi will be an experiment in what happens when the sensibilities of both countries come together – the Danish desire for simplicity and the care and perfection of Japan.”

The three- and four-bedroom villas are designed to resemble traditional Japanese single-story houses, using materials local to Japan. The houses preserve traditional Japanese architectural elements such as the façade, roof, walls, and floor. Each villa features a large, unified space, with functional areas like bathrooms and storage rooms consolidated into separate volumes or pods.

a room with a couch a table and chairs

Ryohei Koike, Associate, BIG, “Setouchi comprises a dense and dramatic archipelago, characterized by beautiful undulating silhouettes of mountainous islands. Our approach for this design aims to simultaneously expand and enhance the vast panoramic views of the archipelago while creating moments of intimacy and privacy through minimal architectural interventions. NOT A HOTEL Setouchi fuses the essence of BIG and modern Danish architecture with the DNA of NOT A HOTEL and traditional Japanese culture.”

BIG’s NOT A HOTEL is expected to open in 2026.

chairs sitting on the edge of a pool next to a building

Project Info

Partners-in-Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Leon Rost
Design Lead: Ryohei Koike
Collaborators:  Maeda Corporation, ARUP Japan, 1moku, NOSIGHT, BOCS, Mir, LIT design
Project Manager: Yu Inamoto
Project Architect: Mamoru Hoshi, Casey Tucker
Project Team: Andrea Hektor, Christina Papadopoulou, Cullen Yoshihiko Fu, Don Chen, Jan Leenknegt, Jasmine Nicholson, Jeremy Felson, Joanna Lesna, Konstantinos Koutsoupakis, Margaret Tyrpa, Matthew Lau, Naysan John Foroudi, Oskar Alfred Maly, Paul Heberle, Pavel Tomek, Sang Ha Jung, Steven Op, Suyue Huo, Théo Hamy

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