BAMO recently completed the Sun City Kobe, a luxury residence for the elderly with a nod to Japanese traditions and culture. BAMO principal Gerry Jue has been working on Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) for more than 23 years. Jue, together with Richard Beard of RBA (architect) and John Loomis of SWA (landscape architect), completed the project at the end of 2017.
The eventual brief was to design a single, 35-story residential tower with 483 independent living apartments topped by dining and lounges; a 3-story nursing wing with 95 skilled nursing bedrooms; a 6-story garage topped by communal baths, pool, fitness and massage facilities; a continuous loop of common and back-of-house spaces on the ground floor (entry pavilion, reception/lobby lounge, ballroom pavilion, library, activity rooms, salon, tea lounge, chapel, staff facilities, etc.); and a lush, mature courtyard and perimeter garden landscaping. This was all to fit onto a tight, 12,400sm site, the last parcel of a waterfront neighborhood redeveloped after the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995.
"Despite the extreme schedule expansion, virtually all interior design concepts held up well over time, because they were built on valid themes and not trendy looks," Jue commented. "With the project situated between the waterfront and mountains, we created a light, natural look and feel at the ground level to reflect the site's seaside location and history, emphasizing interior garden views.
"As one ascends the tower, the materials and colors become darker and more formal, with a greater emphasis on the panoramic view of the city, mountains and water. The 'lantern' at the top of the tower contains dining and lounge spaces, and acts as a kind of lighthouse, an iconic beacon symbolizing Sun City Kobe."
The collaboration between the building and landscape architects and the interior designer was perfectly suited to dealing with the project challenges. BAMO's role was to design the residents' experience inside the building, from interior planning and space shaping to finish materials, window and floor coverings, furnishings, artwork, signage and plants and flowers. This role, coupled with 2 decades of senior living design experience in Japan with the same architect and landscape designer, enabled BAMO to make quick and efficient adjustments to the interior as circumstances required, and achieve the integrated outcome the client desired.
Photography: Steve Hall