It’s far more than your average ski-weekend getaway – Odin House demonstrates how to do luxury, sustainably
A luxury house is usually assessed through its extravagance. The Italian marble, imported chandeliers and diamond-studded taps are there to impress and set it apart from your average brick-and-mortar. But this type of luxury is unsustainable and no loner ethical in light of our current environmental situation. It is also no longer necessary.
With a brief to create a residence that out-classed any other in Japan’s Niseko area, from the onset the architects of Odin House had high luxury in mind. And that is just what they delivered.
Sitting halfway up a slope that is snow-covered for more than six months of the year and nestled between a forested valley and neighbouring mountain ranges, the site alone lends the property an air of exclusivity. It is in the house’s complex and unique structure and combination of Japanese and Scandinavian design sensibilities however, that the house’s luxury standing really takes root.
From the outside, the first thing you notice about Odin House is its thick, curving roof. Part of the client’s brief, the shape of the roof echoes the hilly surroundings and was designed to curve towards Mt Yotei. Seeming to sit just above the house rather than on top of it, this ‘floating roof’ posed more than a few challenges for architects who had to figure out how to take the roof’s distinct design from concept to reality, and of course, how to make it work as a roof in the sometimes volatile location.
As Chris Fjelddahl, director of the Odin Properties, explains, they needed to involve Japan’s leading specialist computer simulation and modeling firm ‘as seismic safety requirements dictated the need to establish the most efficient metal frame structure, especially in light of the floating roof concept’.
Inside, things are just as dramatic. The entire top half of the house is in fact one large open volume spread across staggered half floors, creating a sense of flow and ease. This ‘floating floor’ is matched with a ceiling that also rolls up and down at varying heights – reaching 2.4m in some places. According to Fjelddahl, this dramatic roof was first envisioned by the clients. ‘The brief called for a spectacular interior ceiling cladding to accentuate the impact of the inner spaces,’ he notes.