Habuka mountain retreat | Satoshi Irei
This small house occupies a clearing in the forest near the Habuka ski area in the Japanese Alps. The wedge-shaped home was designed by architect Satoshi Irei to be used as a ski cabin. The Habuka mountain retreat is a modest dwelling but it is well-built and provides its occupants with warmth and shelter from the winter weather. It features an exposed timber frame that was finely crafted by builder Mori no Koubou.
The house has one bedroom plus a loft in approximately 54.5 m2 (590 ft2) for the two levels combined. The front door, protected by a good-sized entry porch, leads to an entry foyer with plenty of space for leaving coats and boots to dry. It also serves as a workroom for the owners to tune up their skis. The entry leads on to the compact living and dining room with adjacent kitchen. At the far end is a short hallway providing access to the bedroom and bathroom. The roof of the house slopes up from the entry in a single plane, giving the living areas a high ceiling and making room for a loft over the bedroom and bathroom.
The interior is given warmth by all the exposed woodwork, including the timber frame and custom built-in shelving units in both the living room and bedroom. The kitchen was likewise custom-built by the builder. The living room has a large view window that spans the width of the room, but sliding shoji screens and wood shutters offer a choice of privacy levels. The small home is well-insulated and can be heated by a small wood stove.
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Photographs courtesy of Mori no Koubou.
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Artistic work…well done.
It’s nice with clean lines and good use of space but for some reason I cannot get over how sterile it seems.
Hi Margaret, that’s interesting. Do you think the sterile impression is just due to the general lack of furniture and bric-a-brac in the photos, or is it something else?
A little of both. There is indeed a limited color palette at work here but I can look beyond that. You could always paint something. The lack of textures egg on the sterile feeling in me. The walls are very flat. All the wood is of the same tone and seems to just blend into the walls. It reminds me of a monotone doctor’s office. When I saw the fireplace I was excited for a relief for my eyes as it was a new material and color.
I don’t mean this to sound mean but if this were my house I would certainly want to be outside more than in as this feels less like a living space and more like a building of necessities where one can cook, bed down, and seek shelter from the elements. Don’t get me wrong though… I DO like the use of space and simple but elegant layout. I guess I just feel like it is just a house and not a home to anyone.
Hi Margaret, thank you for you thoughtful comments!
Possibly because there are virtually no fabrics, no curtains or blinds to Windows, no cushions or throws on furniture, no rugs on the floors. Plus almost nothing in the shelf units. It looks staged as opposed to lived in? Possibly it’s rented out rather than occupied by the same people regularly?
Are the exterior walls shou sugi ban or just stained/painted to resemble it?