Minimal Luxury: Monumental Concrete Hotel by Tadao Ando

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Master of minimalist architecture Tadao Ando has remodeled a small boutique hotel on Japan’s Shikoku island in a refreshingly spare yet luxurious aesthetic, with few distractions to break up his trademark expanses of concrete and glass. The seven-room Setouchi Aonagi perches on a mountain overlook gazing out onto the glassy surface of the Seto Inland Sea, its narrow rooftop swimming pool extending in the opposite direction like a telescope to focus on the distant skyline.

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In recent years, the Setouchi International Art Festival has brought tourists and press from around the world into this quiet corner of Japan, with the central venues all shining examples of Ando’s work, so it was only natural for the Setouchi Aonagi to ‘join the lineup’ as another architectural masterpiece. The building previously functioned as an art museum and private residence, and was outfitted with interior furnishings the architect deemed unnecessary. His transformation strips away all distractions, giving each spacious suite its own subtle theme.

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In addition to the cinematic rooftop pool, there’s an indoor pool dubbed ‘The Cave’ that can be reserved for private use. The hotel notes that the ‘luminous light’ that pours into the building, as well as the view of the sea, are art in and of themselves – but that a selection of minimal contemporary art is also on hand, sparingly displayed to keep the focus on the architecture and surroundings. One example is a mossy garden installation by Yutaka Ono, mimicking the look of the islands when seen from afar.

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The rooms range from about $820 per night for the Garden Suite on the bottom floor to $1450 for the Aonagi Suite, which might sound a bit steep until you consider the general cost of travel in Japan and the fact that each room sleeps 3 to 5 guests.  Plus, staying in a Tadao Ando creation is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience, after all.