Cafe Is a “Staircase to the Sky” To Enjoy Japan’s Beautiful Tottori Sand Dunes

Tottori Takahama Café by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Architecture firm Kengo Kuma and Associates (KKAA) has designed a cafe and observation tower to overlook the Tottori Sand Dunes. Located in Japan, these dunes stretch for nine miles and provide inspiration for the structure. Described by the firm as a “staircase to the sky,” the Tottori Takahama Café is a hybrid structure made from cross-laminated timber and reinforced concrete. The final effect is a sleek, modern design that also blends into its natural surroundings.

The two-story structure is separated into the ground-floor cafe and an upper-level observatory accessed by an exterior staircase. The sloped roof terminates in a pergola that provides filtered shade to visitors who sip their drinks on the roof terrace and take in the beauty of the scenery.

Thanks to the timber materials, both the interior and exterior exude warmth and blend into the sandy dunes. Always conscious of how to incorporate local culture, KKAA introduced Tottori's well-known folk crafts (mingei) into the interior. This local craftsmanship can be seen in the chairs made from cross-laminated timber and the lighting fixtures made from washi paper sprinkled with local sand. Green and black glazed sinks in the bathroom, created by a Tottori Mingei pottery workshop, complete the look.

The end result is a light-filled, visually pleasing place for visitors to refresh themselves while basking in the natural beauty of the Tottori Sand Dunes.

Kengo Kuma and Associates designed a cafe and observation tower overlooking Japan's Tottori Sand Dunes.

Tottori Takahama Café

Made from cross-laminated timber and concrete, the structure blends into the landscape.

Exterior of the Tottori Takahama Café by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Tottori Takahama Café by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Terrace at Tottori Takahama Café by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Roof at Tottori Takahama Café by Kengo Kuma and Associates

The interior includes nods to Tottori's well-known folk crafts (mingei).

Interior of the Tottori Takahama Café by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Interior of the Tottori Takahama Café by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Tottori Takahama Café by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Kengo Kuma and Associates: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Kengo Kuma and Associates.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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