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Bright New Capsule Hotel Defies the Gloomy Sci-Fi Standard

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True or not, the popular image of Japan's capsule hotels is pretty Fifth Element, even when they aren't staffed by robots. Which is why this guesthouse, by Kyoto-based studio Alphaville, is such a breath of (still kind of claustrophobia-inducing) fresh air.

The overwhelming whiteness and the simple wood construction help set the place apart, as do the small windows in the rooms, which are stacked on top of each other. Narrow clerestories run along the top of one wall, which Alphaville implemented to bring a "subtle light from far above through the wooden structure, in tribute to traditional Japanese architecture."

The architects tell Dezeen the idea was to mix "a Japanese capsule-type hotel in which the privacy is well protected, and a dormitory in which the communication among the guests is active." To that end, there's a living and dining area at one side of the structure, which has a bar and a wood-burning pipe stove.

The guesthouse will be used by visitors to Koyasan, a Buddhist temple founded 1,200 years ago, now considered a UNESCO world heritage site. Previously, Alphaville snaked one of Japan's very thin houses through a crowded suburban site.

· Ladders lead to capsule-sized bedrooms in Koyasan Guesthouse by Alphaville [Curbed National]