Tadao Ando’s Shinmonzen hotel fuses old and new through design

The Kyoto hub blend is enlivened by art and subtle geographic influences

The outside of this Tadao Ando-designed inn might be every inch the classic Kyoto townhouse, but step inside the doorway and it’s a different story.

Located in the city’s Gion district, the Shinmonzen’s exterior echoes the timber slats, kawara roof tiles and low profile of its neighbouring buildings. But Ando has drawn just as much from modernism, installing a long, glowing concrete corridor that’s miles away from Kyoto’s historic architecture.

The project was 10 years in the making, spearheaded by hotelier Paddy McKillen – who also owns Villa la Coste in Provence. Ando describes the hotel as representing ‘a nuanced fusion of the past, the present, and the future’.

‘I believe that it will embody the essence of Kyoto while still appealing to cosmopolitan sensibilities,’ the architect continues.

Photography: Ben Richards

The Kyoto hotel mixes design from the east and west, with interiors created by Remi Tessier. Tatami mats and sliding paper screens can be found in the Shinmonzen’s nine guest suites, next to pieces by the likes of Damien Hirst, Annie Morris and Louise Bourgeois, as well as Kohei Nawa and Yoon-Young Hur.

European influences also come in the form of silver-plated door handles made in France and Italian bed linen.

Photography: Ben Richards

Each room has a private balcony, overlooking the adjacent Shirakawa river – which is shaded by the flowers of cherry blossom trees during Japan’s Hanami season.

A restaurant is set to open later this year, alongside a patisserie and spa, while rooms start at £860 per night.

Shinmonzen-dori, 235 Nishinocho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0088, Japan

Photography: Ben Richards
Photography: Ben Richards

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