Architecture firm Kengo Kuma and Associates (KKAA) has designed a cafe and observation tower to overlook the Tottori Sand Dunes. Located in Japan, these dunes stretch for nine miles and provide inspiration for the structure. Described by the firm as a “staircase to the sky,” the Tottori Takahama Café is a hybrid structure made from cross-laminated timber and reinforced concrete. The final effect is a sleek, modern design that also blends into its natural surroundings.
The two-story structure is separated into the ground-floor cafe and an upper-level observatory accessed by an exterior staircase. The sloped roof terminates in a pergola that provides filtered shade to visitors who sip their drinks on the roof terrace and take in the beauty of the scenery.
Thanks to the timber materials, both the interior and exterior exude warmth and blend into the sandy dunes. Always conscious of how to incorporate local culture, KKAA introduced Tottori's well-known folk crafts (mingei) into the interior. This local craftsmanship can be seen in the chairs made from cross-laminated timber and the lighting fixtures made from washi paper sprinkled with local sand. Green and black glazed sinks in the bathroom, created by a Tottori Mingei pottery workshop, complete the look.
The end result is a light-filled, visually pleasing place for visitors to refresh themselves while basking in the natural beauty of the Tottori Sand Dunes.