No matter whether it’s a school, hospital, municipal building, or hotel, Kume Sekkei’s specialty is hospitality — what each member of the firm refers to as “social design.”
“Kume Sekkei’s philosophy of being ‘user-first’ is very important to us,” said project manager Yugo Usuda, who recently worked on two openings — The Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka, and Bellustar Tokyo — where that user is a lot less clear than the buildings’ curtain walls. Each is a mixed-use property that Usuda said included a lot of research and dialogue about creating one ecosystem that features offices, restaurants, entertainment complexes, and more.
In Tokyo, the Bellustar is a contemporary urban oasis that occupies the uppermost 39th to 47th floors of Kabukicho Tower, a 2023 skyscraper devoted to entertainment and recreation. In Fukuoka, a city renowned for its startup culture — and history — Kume Sekkei design honors the past and the future cohesively at the new Ritz-Carlton, whose rooms occupy floors 19 through 23 of the main tower, with a lounge, fitness center, pool, and bar offering sweeping views of Hakata Bay on the 24th.
“The overall image created by the glass curtain wall negates the solid, monotonous wall surfaces common to skyscrapers and allows a distinctive form to emerge in the cityscape,” said Usuda. “The symbolic exterior gives a progressive and global image to the streetscape and gives the hotel a distinctive identity.”
Besides the striking angled facade, Kume Sekkei also architected a central open “sliver” of an entryway to honor the site’s past while the region enters the future (and can enter the space itself).
“The site was the former site of an elementary school with a 100-year history in Fukuoka. It was a school building for local residents and a place where community was nurtured through events such as Bon-odori (Bon dance) and sports festivals. The buildings are arranged around a plaza that carries on this memory, creating a comfortable plaza that is both a public space and a private atmosphere,” said Usuda.
The concept applies a broader ideal at Kume Sekkei to nurture relationships between corporations and the community. The firm encourages its team to volunteer and is currently restoring Honda House in Zushi, a Tangible Cultural Property that was designed in the 1930s by Gonkuro Kume, the founder of Kume Sekkei. After restoration, the facility will be a “workcation” destination for employees.