In 2019 Singapore-based architect Kerry Hill and his team completed the design of the Aman Resort in the city of Kyoto, Japan. Aman represents the fruition of a beautiful landscape, first conceived as the garden of a textile museum. Whimsical stone pathways curve gently along the forest floor, and stone slabs blanketed in moss serve as the foundations for the resort’s architecture.
AMAN Kyoto Resort Technical Information
- Architects: Kerry Hill Architects
- Location: Kyoto, Japan
- Client: Aman
- Landscape Consultant: Design and Management, Inc.
- Topics: Total Black, Wood Structure, Resort
- Area: 32-hectare
- Project Year: 2019
- Photographs: © Courtesy of AMAN Kyoto Resort
Of course you can pin a label on us if you want to but I prefer to think of our work as simply building appropriately. Our aim is to emphasize the importance of sensual experience and an intuitive approach over theoretical speculation. I do not think you can find a reason for everything you make.
– Kerry Hill
AMAN Kyoto Resort Photographs
Aman Kyoto is a small luxury hotel that opened in late 2019. The secluded grounds are part of what was an artistic community that gave rise to the revered Rinpa school of painting 400 years ago. They are within easy reach of Kyoto’s most famous sites, including the stunning golden temple Kinkakuji.
The site, which was introduced to Aman by Kerry Hill in 1995, is an 8-acre garden surrounded by forests established in the 1970s as a setting for a planned private textile museum. The project was then conceived to become a contemporary 26-suite ryokan. Making use of the existing established platforms in the garden for the new pavilions, the new zinc roofed and timber clad buildings are deliberately simple and reductionist to allow nature to dominate visually. The materials and proportions of the pavilions are intended to feel Japanese while not being traditional. Commissioned artworks and ceiling lanterns developed for the project complete the interiors.
Aman Kyoto’s latticed guest rooms are a contemporary homage to the traditional ryokan inn, strikingly minimalist in their geometry, and each serving as a window onto their natural surroundings. The interiors are spacious and light-filled, ingeniously crafted to foster peace, relaxation, and contemplation at every turn.
Each of the 24 guestrooms features a contemporary reimagining of the traditional ryokan featuring minimalist aesthetics, floor-to-ceiling windows, tatami mats, and tokonoma. Neutral palettes complement the work of local artisans with the spaces incorporating handmade raku tile panels and custom-made ceramics.
The ofuro bathtubs in each bathroom are constructed from hinoki Cyprus wood native to central Japan. At the same time, all furniture has been designed and sits alongside artifacts selected individually for each space.
The resort has two dining areas; the Living Pavilion by Aman, with its central fireplace and glass doors opening onto a garden terrace, represents the heart of Aman Kyoto. Restaurant Taka-an pays homage to the influential painter and polymath Honami Koetsu, a pivotal figure in the cultural development of Kyoto during the 17th century. Meticulous design, a tranquil atmosphere, and remarkable kaiseki-style cuisine combine to create a quintessentially Japanese culinary experience.
The garden unfolds as a series of platforms within a valley enclosed by a small stream and wooded hill. Originally intended as platforms for the former owner’s planned museum of textiles, they now provide the foundations of the resort. Moss-covered stone pathways, some edged with cut-stone borders, are paved along with the site, while garden stairways and paths lead guests to the upper levels bordered with colorful Yama Momiji maples and Japanese cedar planted. The garden has also been designed to self-irrigate.
AMAN Kyoto Resort Plan
AMAN Kyoto Resort Image Gallery
About Kerry Hill
Kerry Hill (1943–2018) was an Australian architect renowned for his hospitality designs across Asia. Hill founded his studio, Kerry Hill Architects, in 1979. Among his first major projects were The Darwin Centre in Australia and the Sukhothai Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand.
He always focused on creating contextually sensitive buildings that drew on local styles, building techniques, and materials.