Sun City Kobe Tower by Richard Beard Architects
With breathtaking views of Mt. Rokko to the north and a vast waterscape to the south, Kobe sits as a strip of land with phenomenal views both inland and to the sea. Located one block from the Kobe Sea on a tree-lined boulevard that includes the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art and several national museums, the 500,000-square-foot Sun City Kobe Tower complex provides the ultimate in senior living through attention to detail and amenities, resulting in a vibrant community in which residents can thrive. The design seeks to create a living environment that represents a seamless merger of architecture, landscape, and interiors, and that celebrates this unique city and environment.
Designed by Richard Beard Architects
Photographed by Steve Hall
Along the street, a series of low-scale pavilions establish a pedestrian-friendly experience. The pavilions feature gently curving roofs clad in metal that create a modern sculptural feel and hint at more traditional Japanese building forms and the sea beyond. Unlike many urban developments, the 35-story, 483-unit apartment tower (plus 98 nursing units) is pulled to the northwest corner of the three-acre site, instead of the center of the property. The asymmetrical tower location allowed the team to develop a large, sun-filled central courtyard and a rich variety of perimeter gardens that create a buffer from the adjoining streets.
Around this courtyard, arranged as a loose quadrangle and connected by a partially glass-enclosed promenade, are public amenities: tea lounge, library, auditorium, communal baths, and dedicated rooms for mah-jongg and karaoke.
A Japanese screen-like porte cochere is near a large, serene, water feature at the entry. A garden level promenade circulates around the central courtyard offering continuous garden views, access to amenities, and encouraging resident interaction. The architectural strategy for the tower was to create a ‘lantern’ expression at the top of the tower that contains all the largest residential units and the project’s main restaurant and bar. The composition of the tower facade conveys a very modern design, with an inter-locking of volumes and minimalist glass guardrails. The gently shifting colors combined with careful massing create a slender and asymmetric façade. Most of the tower residences have ocean and city views and the form of the tower produces many corner windows.
The landscape concept for the project was to incorporate the elements of city and mountain into a singular vision, not individual gardens separated by building forms. Mt. Rokko has diverse seasonal trees, is a popular place for bird watching, and is also famous as a great quarry and water source. The City of Kobe’s art festivals are very popular among the locals and visitors. Responding to that rich art scene, art was incorporated as a core element to the design. Within the project site, a series of interconnected garden courtyards seem to stretch through the building itself, linking the interior and exterior, framing the experience through nature.
The interior was developed in tandem with the building and landscape design to create a seamless environment. The interior design concept was to create a "peaceful harbor" for those within its walls and gardens - a place of tranquility and comfort, beauty and serenity. This concept drives the selection of interior materials, colors, and atmosphere. At the ground level, light wood, white stone, fresh colors and garden views create a casual, relaxed mood in keeping with the waterfront location. Reception, library, activity, tea lounge and Sun City Hall all look into a luscious garden oasis. On the 6th floor, there is a roof-top pool, and ofuros for men and women. Here one is close to the city views yet high enough to enjoy the privacy and serenity of a luxurious spa environment. At the top of the tower are the 34th floor and 35th floor dining and lounge spaces, where dark wood, luxurious stone, rich colors and expansive windows create a dramatic frame for the views of city, sea and mountains. The graceful and elegant spaces combined with the varied landscapes below offer residents an amazing level of comfort and opportunity.