Morinomiya, Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo

4. April 2019
Photo: Nacasa & Partners

The Tokyo area where the historic Hotel Chinzanso is located is known as Camellia Hill, in reference to the wild camellia flowers that bloom there. ("Chinzanso" actually means "guest house on Camellia Hill.") The latest addition to the hotel's centuries-old gardens is a shrine topped by a roof garden. Hirofumi Suga answered a few questions about the rooftop garden.

Project: Morinomiya, Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, 2017
Location: 2-10-8 Sekiguchi Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Client: Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo 
Landscape Architect: 1moku
Representative: Hirofumi Suga 
Architect: Shuji Motomochi / Yasoichi  
Interior Designer: Atsuhiko Sugiyama / The Wholedesign Inc.  
Lighting Designer: Lightmoment 
Construction: 1moku
Photo: Nacasa & Partners
Please give us an overview of the project.

A new shrine was built on a small hill in the Hotel Chinsanzo Tokyo garden, a scenic spot on Tsubakiyama [Mt. Tsubaki]. We created a rooftop garden for this building planted with camellias, the flower from which the mountain gets its name. The verdant garden design makes use of existing trees so that it blends in fully with the Hotel Chinzanso garden.

Photo: Nacasa & Partners
What was most important for you during the design process?

I felt it was important to create a story that would continue for the next hundred years based on the site’s inherent logic, philosophy, environment, and conditions.

Photo: Nacasa & Partners
What challenges did you face in the project? How did you respond to them?

The site does not have vehicle access, so bringing in supplies was difficult. We used existing stones as much as possible, along with a 150-ton wrecker to crane in materials over the buildings, plus some small machines and a tripod for lifting to make minor adjustments. Since the timeline for construction was tight, we also took on aspects of the project that the general contractor could not handle, such as the building’s foundation, the stones for the interior floors, and the ceiling sculptures. 

Photo: Nacasa & Partners
What is the societal role of the architect or designer?

I believe the essential function of a gardener is to read the land, and that it is crucial to start with the garden when constructing a building. Gardens also play a significant role in reducing stress, the central problem facing contemporary society. 

Photo: Nacasa & Partners
Photo: Nacasa & Partners
Photo: Nacasa & Partners
Photo: Nacasa & Partners
Photo: Nacasa & Partners

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