Japanese architecture studio Bandesign have designed a mirrors and blossoms cafe with a reflective facade, designed to amplify the natural beauty of the world renowned Japanese cherry blossom season, which the area is famous for. Like an architectural chameleon, the façade allows the building to disappear into its surroundings as it reflects the neighbouring vegetation and sky above.
The cafe is located in Gifu City in Japan’s Gifu Province. The area is famous for its cherry blossom season, when for a few days in spring, the landscape turns pink as these trees bloom. This natural spectacle is enjoyed by many Japanese and tourists, who flock to the location to catch a glimpse of this pink explosion.
The architects wanted a building which reflected (literally) this beautiful phenomenon. Their answer was to create an architectural statement which fully acknowledged and celebrated its surroundings. They achieved this by creating a minimally pitched roof series of structures clad in strips of white painted steel, and by creating two mirrors from the main façades. “Taking advantage of this location, we intentionally made repeated refractions of the [cherry-blossom] tree”, explain the architects, “in order to amplify the cherry, two mirror walls are set up at in an angled position, creating a cherry forest on a corner of the town”.
In front of the mirrored façades, we find a triangular Zen courtyard laid out in a bright white gravel, intended to create a sense of purity and calm. At the centre of the courtyard, sits a large Camellia bonsai tree. Two more similar triangular courtyards are found around the site.
“The Camellia tree flowers before the cherry blossom”, explain the architects. The Camellia flowers are bright red, followed by the cherry blossoms which flower in pink. This colour game was intentionally wished for by the architects, who explain that; “we designed the changing season of winter to spring by the colours”.
Through the use of blossoms and mirrored façades, Bandesign wished to showcase the wonders of the Japanese seasonal shift in nature and use architecture to capture it in reflection.
Inside, the wooden structure of the building is fully expressed in the roof structure. The theme of nature connotes in the interior, as the architects explain that, “every design and color implies being in the forest”. Green and red walls are a reference to the Camellia trees. Above the heads of customers, the timber roof geometry is deliberately left exposed; a direct reference to tree branches and natural geometry which gives one the feeling of “resting under the trees”.
Large horizontal windows frame the outside courtyards and the surrounding cherry blossoms, allowing visitors to enjoy their food whilst absorbing the surrounding view.
The design, which was completed and opened in 2014, is a spectacular contemporary Japanese piece of architecture. In its simplicity, it displays all of the Japanese qualities we have come to appreciate and love around the world: elegance in minimalism, a deep respect and connection with nature, and quietly confident design statements.