“The flow as we move within the space is remarkable, and it’s beautiful watching the effects of different light, different weather, and now different seasons, and the way the house ‘rises’ to the challenge of being a contemporary home-away-from-home.”
Once upon a time there was nothing but shirakaba (silver birch) forests, snow and small animals foraging around Middle Hirafu Village in the depths of winter. These days it’s a little busier, but looking out over the forest on the western boundary of the village from Mukashi Mukashi, you would never know it.
Mukashi Mukashi is the dream ski home-away-from-home for an Australian family who was introduced to Niseko about 10 years ago, and has been coming back every year since. Expecting this relationship to continue long-term, they decided to build a place they could call their own. Mukashi Mukashi translates as “once upon a time”, and they decided to call the house that after learning the phrase here and finding it fitting for the stories and memories they envisaged their house would create.
The owner’s brief to the architect was for it to be “funky Japanese”. “It was as simple as that – we really wanted the blend of Western and Eastern in a way that was contemporary, yet familiar.” The owner’s wife is also fascinated by the colour of the rural sheds popping out of snow filled paddocks across Niseko, and combining industrial design and warmth became the driving imperative.
Mukashi Mukashi is built on a 412sqm block and has 450sqm of living space over three floors. It has six bedrooms, each withensuite, plus a maid’s room, and can accommodate up to 16 guests.
Paul Nikel, president of project manager West Canada Homes, says the house took 24 months from concept to completion.
“The concept was to design a modern home large enough for family – current and future – yet incorporate intimate spaces for friends and family to celebrate together. The house is large with circulation space for all, yet still warm and inviting. It’s about living in each moment and appreciating the specific space one occupies.
“We didn’t want the design to be compromised just to capture a glimpse of Mt Yotei. Therefore we took a more holistic approach and paramount was that each window frame a view of the best Hirafu offers – shirakaba forest, bustling street life, eclectic architecture, glorious Hokkaido blue sky, and of course we managed to frame a perfect Mt Yotei view too.
The exterior and interior material palette was tightly controlled with neutral tones. Exterior finishes are concrete and rusted corten steel. Interiors maintain the natural palette with walnut floors accentuated by clean white walls. The kitchen also has white cabinets and uncluttered Corian countertops. The bedrooms and media room have 100% wool carpet throughout that adds to the warm and cosy ambiance of the home.
Nikel said the architect wanted to ensure a strong Japanese presence that respected traditional Japanese architecture, yet provided a modern interpretation. “Lines are simple and strong,” he says. “Upon entering the living room you are greeted by a handsome see-through fireplace clad in traditional Japanese tiles accompanied by walnut bookshelves. Furniture accentuates the architect’s goals.”
The owners say the house exceeded their expectations. “We’ve spent a lot of time there now and it continues to delight. The flow as we move within the space is remarkable, and it’s beautiful watching the effects of different light, different weather, and now different seasons, and the way the house ‘rises’ to the challenge of being a contemporary home-away-from-home.”
The flow through the spaces and the ambience at night are among their favourite things about the house. “We love the privacy the spaces afford, yet other spaces allow for 14 people to come together with ease. We love the incredible warmth of the industrial finishes and the sheer delight you experience as you take notice of the all the different materials and the lighting.”
TEXT: KRISTIAN LUND
PHOTOS: WEST CANADA HOMES
APPEARS IN: POWDERLIFE 2017 WINTER EDITION