The House of Light Hotel, with its sliding roof and spectacular play of light at dawn and dusk, inspires a symphony of emotions.
By Saida Santana
American artist James Turrell, known for using light, shadows and luminescence as the primordial elements in many of his installations, designed a space where East and West meet. West is explored by his own conception of art, and East is represented by the distinctive topography of the Niigata Prefecture, in Japan. This is the House of Light Hotel, a dream house with spectacular views of the light at sunrise and sunset through a roof that, when opened, inspires a symphony of emotions in the visitor.
A sojourn through the Light of House turns into a journey for the senses. Those who have enjoyed this, almost poetic, vision in the middle of the mountains can attest to this. The hotel—designed by Turrell and architect Daigo Ishii—combines tradition and comfort. With accommodation for seven guests, the modern equipment and sliding roofs are complemented by the outward appearance of the traditional Dukuri Sei-gai customs found throughout the region, and the interior design in classic Japanese style.
All this contributes to creating a traditional family residence full of contrasts, where the mild and soothing scent of the wood and tatami floors are interspersed with a lighting design that differs from the standard of traditional Japanese houses. The peculiarity of Light House is precisely the light. Upstairs, at dawn or dusk, its sliding roof will automatically open to reveal a majestic sky that invites meditation. The roof structure is the same as in another creation by the master of light and space: the Open Sky in the Naoshima Island, also in Japan: a square opening in the roof, covered by another sliding roof that opens to display the luminosity of the landscape.
Light is also the protagonist of the interior of the house: the walls have channels of yellow light whose intensity can be regulated, although Turrell himself has indicated which is the most appropriate chromatic hue for every occasion.
Light of House Hotel is situated just outside Tokamachi, surrounded by mountains. The entrance stands about 9 feet above ground level in order to survive the copious winter snowfalls. The hotel is an integral part, a sort of permanent site-specific installation, of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial in an effort to increase the number of visitors.
James Turrell (Los Angeles, 1943) is a visionary artist who devotes years of research and effort to each project. During the time he spent in prison— because of his objection to the Vietnam War— he learned about the light that hides in the darkness. He is fascinated by luminescence, and has managed to create healing devices through certain light spectrum. Aware of its benefits as a natural medicine, Turrell transforms light into art for the senses. ■
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