“NOT A HOTEL” in Setouchi by BIG


The design for luxury hotelier NOT A HOTEL’s newest resort on Japan’s Sagi Island – NOT A HOTEL Setouchi – builds on the longstanding dialogue between Scandinavian and Japanese design values. The hotel weaves naturally throughout the island’s mountains, incorporating natural and local materials while promoting a connection to nature.

Japanese hospitality group NOT A HOTEL began its partnership with BIG in 2022 to expand the company’s existing six hospitality offerings across Japan. Located on a 30,000-square-metre site on the remote island of Sagishima in Japan’s Setouchi region, the partnership brings three villas to the southwestern cape of the island with panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea.

NOT A HOTEL Setouchi is slated to break ground later this year, joining BIG’s growing portfolio of hospitality projects including Audemars Piguet’s Hôtel des Horlogers in Le Brassus, Switzerland; Vollebak Island in Canada; and the Biosphere cabin at Treehotel in Swedish Lapland.

The masterplan for NOT A HOTEL Setouchi prioritises restoration of the undulating terrain, where grass will be harvested before construction begins, while olive trees, lemon trees and other native vegetation will be reintroduced to further enhance the site’s natural beauty.

The three villas – named ‘360,’ ‘270’ and ‘180’ depending on location and corresponding views – intentionally blend into the landscape’s natural contours, aligning with existing roads and infrastructure. Spread across varying elevations, the resort appears like a ribbon winding through the site.

Each villa has distinct design characteristics that fit into their specific location onsite. The ring-shaped ‘360’ is perched at the highest altitude, offering literal 360-degree views of Setouchi’s land and seascape with a central courtyard for privacy.

‘270’ captures a 270-degree panorama of the surrounding archipelago, featuring bathing spaces arranged like floating islands around the pool alongside a sauna and open firepit. At the peninsula’s tip, ‘180’ is the closest to the sea, whose curvature follows the coastal landscape. The home includes an inner courtyard with gentle slopes, mossy pathways and trees that change colour with the seasons.

The three- and four-bedroom villas reference the design of traditional Japanese single-story houses, incorporating materials local to Japan. The essential elements of the homes – the façade, roof, walls and floor – all preserve traditional Japanese architectural elements while being reimagined for modern-day use.

Glass façades that connect the interior and exterior are a modern interpretation of shoji screens, while the pattern of the Genshoseki natural slate floors is inspired by the layout of traditional Japanese tatami mats. The load bearing curved clay walls are achieved using the traditional rammed earth technique, incorporating soil directly from the site.

Each villa opens into a large, unified space, with areas of functionality such as bathrooms and storage rooms consolidated into separate volumes, or pods. Skylights are placed atop these more private pods to provide views from any point within the buildings – balancing openness with solitude.

The villas all feature traditional Japanese baths, calming colour palettes, outdoor firepits and heated infinity pools that blur the boundaries between the properties and the surrounding nature. The roofs at NOT A HOTEL Setouchi are covered on all sides with solar tiles, representing a technological and modern interpretation of a traditional Japanese roof.

Rainwater collected by the elevated roofs is used to irrigate the landscaping, while the operable façades and overhangs promote passive cooling in spring and summer. NOT A HOTEL runs a network of luxury vacation homes across Japan based on a shared ownership model. The company will soon open sales for the Setouchi villas on its official website, and the resort is slated to open in 2026. Source by BIG.

  • Location: Setouchi, Japan
  • Architect: BIG Bjarke Ingels Group
  • Partners-in-Charge: Bjarke Ingels, Leon Rost
  • Design Lead: Ryohei Koike
  • Project Manager: Yu Inamoto
  • Project Architect: Mamoru Hoshi, Casey Tucker
  • Project Team: Andrea Hektor, Christina Papadopoulou, Cullen Yoshihiko Fu, Don Chen, Jan Leenknegt, Jasmine Nicholson, Jeremy Felson, Joanna Lesna, Konstantinos Koutsoupakis, Margaret Tyrpa, Matthew Lau, Naysan John Foroudi, Oskar Alfred Maly, Paul Heberle, Pavel Tomek, Sang Ha Jung, Steven Op, Suyue Huo, Théo Hamy
  • Collaborators:  Maeda Corporation, ARUP Japan, 1moku, NOSIGHT, BOCS, Mir, LIT design
  • Client: NOT A HOTEL
  • Size: 2,350 sq m
  • Year: 2026
  • Images: LIT design, MIR, Courtesy of BIG Bjarke Ingels Group