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This Unique Hokkaido Retreat Was Designed Using an Algorithm

This retreat in Hokkaido, Japan is unlike any cabin in the woods you have ever seen. Laboratory for Explorative Architecture & Design, or LEAD, designed YEZO as an architectural experiment in fabrication and sustainability. The project is defined by an elegantly curving roof with a wooden underbelly of structural members that are suspended from the chimney. Although beautiful, this impressive design move is more than just a pretty roof.

The studio created an algorithm to define the shape of the building and prioritized the fabrication, or construction, of the project. By following this algorithm, every single structural member that defines the roof curve can be constructed from a single mold. Each piece is a glue-laminated, or GluLam, timber beam used at a different angle or cut at a different length. This means that the curve, which came from the single mold, is the only unchanging variable between every wooden beam. GluLam beams were used because they increase the strength of the wood by using structural adhesive to glue wood together and would allow the designers to use less wood.

By following this logic and minimizing human decisions in the design, LEAD has created a purer space perfect for appreciating the natural word. “Its lean tectonic system combined with only a most essential spatial programme,” LEAD explains, “redefines the modern meaning of true luxury: a place and time for quiet reflection and private enjoyment in a setting defined by wood, stone, water, and light, surrounded by ever-changing natural beauty.”

Although the designers planned the retreat to allow visitors to focus on the natural beauty, it is difficult not to appreciate the interiors. The concrete chimney acts as the focal point of the interior space while glass walls come up to meet the wooden umbrella. The interior is rendered with a warm color palette that matches the GluLam that drove the design and helps you feel connected to the architects’ intention.

So, if you are looking for a nature getaway and want to admire incredible architecture while you’re there, YEZO may be the perfect spot for you. You’ll just have to wait until someone builds it!


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