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tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Japan Architecture News - Jul 24, 2023 - 15:50   2849 views

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Japanese architecture firm tono Inc. has completed the Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Yakushima Island, a natural paradise in southern Japan, where abundant rainfall onto 2,000-meter peaks nurtures dense forests home to millennium-old Japanese cedars.

This innovative housing co-op applies "regenerative architecture" to re-conceptualize the relationship between human habitation and the surrounding natural environment. 

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Living deck and existing symbol tree. Image © Rui Nishi

The name Sumu means both "to live" and "to become clear", expressing its core concept of living in a way that positively impacts the landscape. Rather than being a discrete site, the design takes a holistic view of the entire river basin, from the mountains to the sea, making a positive contribution to natural processes. 

It applies "regenerative architecture", a new approach developed by the designers that combines traditional Japanese civil engineering with contemporary technology.

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Living deck. Image © Hinano Kimoto

Going beyond simply preserving nature as it is today, key considerations in the design include designing the underground environment, orientating buildings based on in-depth understanding of water and air flows through the landscape and creating an ongoing connection with nature through architecture. 

In addition to exploring modern applications of traditional Japanese wisdom, its features include an off-grid energy from solar power, storage batteries, and local firewood, comfortable living spaces that leverage architectural expertise to achieve effective airtightness and insulation unlike camp-style accommodations and modern spaces with stylish design.

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Living deck. Image © Rui Nishi

A major departure from conventional nature experience facilities, Sumu encourages a wider section of society to engage in learning, with the aim of bettering our planet’s future. 

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Living deck and buildings. Image © Rui Nishi

True to its concept of making a positive impact by living among nature, Sumu residents adopt a “regenerative lifestyle” that enhances the environment through everyday activities, from collecting driftwood for use as firewood, to clearing grass to allow cool air to flow through in a way that benefits the landscape.

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Living deck and existing rock. Image © Rui Nishi

Sumu's design changes our relationship with nature. It enables residents to discover new possibilities for interacting with nature, and to adapt the way they think and act, thus building relationships with nature that transcend generations. 

If more widely applied, its unique approach has the potential to accelerate environmental initiatives.

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Cabin deck. Image © Wataru Aoyama

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Living deck. Image © Wataru Aoyama

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Cabin 1 exterior. Image © Rui Nishi

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Kitchen. Image © Rui Nishi

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Living deck through dining&kitchen. Image © Rui Nishi

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Dining room. Image © Rui Nishi

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Lounge. Image © Rui Nishi

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Lounge. Image © Fumika Mimura

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Bathroom. Image © Rui Nishi

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Cabin deck. Image © Rui Nishi

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Foundation and structure. Image © Rui Nishi

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Cabin 2 interior. Image © Rui Nishi

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Cabin 3 interior. Image © Rui Nishi

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Plans and elevations

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Living area plans and elevations

tono Inc. completes Sumu Yakushima Regenerative Residence in Japan

Underground water cabin

Project facts

Project name: Sumu Yakushima

Location: Yakushima island Kagoshima prefecture Japan

Client: Sumu Yakushima, Moss Guide Club

Architects/designers: Tsukasa Ono (tono Inc.)

Collaborators: WAKUWORKS

Engineers: Shizen energy Inc., ENERGY MACHIZUKURI-SHA INC.

Construction company: Motchom create

Suppliers: Arimizu sawmill companies

Lighting Designer: Hisaki Kato

Project completion date: May 2022

Top image: Living deck and Lounge. Image © Rui Nishi.

All images © Rui Nishi, Hinano kimoto, Wataru Aoyama.

All drawings © tono Inc.

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