Tokyo-based Klein Dytham architecture completed a beautiful timber-clad visitor center befitting its surroundings in a breathtaking Japanese forest. Set in the foothills of the active volcano Mount Asama in Karuizawa, the Picchio Ice Rink Visitors Center welcomes tourists who flock to the area for hiking in the summer and ice-skating in winter. The design team respected the site’s natural flow of water and ecosystem, and they drew inspiration from the surrounding flora and fauna.
Designed in collaboration with landscape design firm Studio on Site, the Picchio Ice Rink Visitors Center is part of the popular Hoshinoya resorts area in Karuizawa, Nagano. One of the biggest highlights of this year-round destination is the “KERA-IKE (pond) Ice Rink,” a semi-natural gourd-shaped ice rink made from both assisted and natural freezing. In the distance rises stunning snow-capped Mount Asama. Deep wintering pools were carved into the pond to give fish and other aquatic life a place to live where the ice doesn’t freeze entirely.
The Picchio Ice Rink Visitors Center, which opened in summer 2016, features a clubhouse and serves as a trailhead during the summer and skate-rental area in winter. The building and a pair of complementary gabion walls behind it are curved to follow the shape of the pond and reference the arcs made by skaters in the ice rink. The walkways, landscaping, and benches are also informed by the landscape’s natural topography. The building facade is clad in cedar shingles punctuated by bright green and blue anondised aluminum tiles. Floor-to-ceiling glazing lets in natural light and offers views of the rink and nature from inside.
Images © Brian Scott Peterson and Makoto Yoshida