The Share Hotels Kumu, Kanazawa

Designed by: Yusuke Seki
For client: Floor area: 2803.14 M² Year of completion: 2017
Nominated for: Hotel of the Year

Kumu Hotel Yusuke Seki02
© Takumi Ota

Welcome space. Open-Tea table introduces the traditional tea ceremony and invites visitors to Kanazawa's local culture casually. The rich atmosphere of the ground floor integrates Kanazawa's four distinct seasons.

About the Project

Kanazawa is an old castle town on the Sea of Japan, famous for its tea-house districts and traditional crafts. Within this unique context, Yusuke Seki proposed a hotel that invite foreign and Japanese guests to the local community and its history.The hotel is named after its design concept: Kumu. This is a Japanese verb with many nuances: depending on the context, the word can mean 'to join' (組む), 'to draw out' (汲む), or 'to pour' (酌む). In a larger sense, kumu relates to the links between people and places (joining), empathy (drawing out and reading another’s feelings), and the spirit of hospitality (pouring someone a drink). This concept led to a hotel that is inclusive and engaged with its context. Housed in a renovated office building, the hotel offers a variety of accomodations, ranging from dormitories to suites to satiate the diverse needs of modern travelers. In dialogue with Kanazawa’s tea houses, a tea salon on the ground floor 'joins' the hotel to the community and entices guests to explore other places in the city.

Kumu also appears in other places. Traditional Japanese joinery was used for the timber grid in the lobby, which also serves to support modular wall panels for the spatial organization. The bespoke furniture joins different textures and materials, while the screens in the guest rooms feature grid-like detailing.

Drawing on the local context, pouring guests a cup of tea, joining people to a place and to one another: this is what Kumu is all about.

What’s unique about it

Japan has a long tradition of inns called ryokan, and these have historically formed the infrastructure for visitors traveling throughout the country. Because hotels are a modern development in Japanese culture, perhaps this entails that it is rather easy to imagine a new format once again. Kumu's goal is to create a place that nurtures a connection between an increasingly diverse group of visitors and the historic local city.

Creating a feeling of opulence was important – a form of luxury that comes from having the entire city and its culture at your fingertips. In this equation, the ideal hotel is no longer measured by the amenities it offers, but rather by how it provides the flexibility for visitors to combine their interests and needs to create their own personal experiences.This project aims to create a space of encounter: a seasonal place that is open to the city in the summer, provides warmth in the winter, and is frequented by locals and visitors alike to mingle, forge relationships, and think about the future of the community.

Yusuke Seki's goal was not to just create another place to sleep, but rather to think earnestly about how strategies for facilitating visitors’ experiences and their engagement with the city can be combined through design.

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© Takumi Ota

The Entrance Lobby and Tea table area. An adjustable grid and division panel system provides flexibility to the space while also highlighting traditional craftsmanship. Depending on the function, the partition panels can be moved.

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© Takumi Ota

Semi-Indoors gallery space. Interstitial spaces - between inside and outside - have always been of utmost importance in Japanese vernacular architecture. The dual aesthetic and functional properties belong to both according to the occasion, showcasing from inside and opening the event space to the public. Based on the Kumu concept, the space introduces the public to new visitors by celebrating local craftswork and art.

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© Takumi Ota

Entrance view from outside. The detail of design reflects the distinctive seasons such as famous for snowscape in winter. The signs are designed with extra depth in case of snow piling up. All the signs were produced in collaboration with graphic designer Yoshihisa Tanaka.

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© Takumi Ota

Lounge Space: Comfortable meeting space is important. Seki designed furniture pieces that once again reflect the concept of Kumu as joining materials.

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© Takumi Ota

Guest room: The Japanese modern style room has Sho-ji - consisting of Wahi Japanese translucent paper for window.

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© Takumi Ota

Guest room: Tatami area for comfort, bed and facility area

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© Takumi Ota

Guest room: Detail of prefixed iconic wardrobe.

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© Takumi Ota

Tea room: As the famous tea-house districts heritage from 16th century is located in the neighborhood, the hotel offers three different tea placse for introducing tea ceremony in a variety of styles. In this room, local artist Yuichi Takemata’s Mobile tearoom is presented and gives open access to experience the historical culture. Again, provide the concept of Kumu through the scooping and serving of tea.

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© Takumi Ota

The hotel is built upon a 1970s office building. The ground floor used to be the parking space but now welcomes local and international visitors, enabling a cross over of cultures like a junction.

Yusuke Seki

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