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Nobu Ryokan

Montalba Architects

Shared By

August King

Project Name

Nobu Ryokan

Project Status


Year Completed



9,200 sq. feet


Nobu Hospitality Group


  • General Contractor: Shawmut Design and Construction
  • Civil Engineer: RJR Engineering
  • Structural Engineer: David C. Weiss
  • Plumbing Engineer: Ensitu Engineering
  • Construction Manager: Renaissance Partners

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Project Description

This is one of twelve American projects on the 2016 World Architecture Festival shortlist.


Ideally located on the famed Carbon Beach along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California, Nobu Ryokan is completely renovated from a 1950s-era beach motel, which combines the minimalist aesthetic of traditional Japanese inns with the cool elegance of the California coastline. A simple, chic entrance opens onto an oceanfacing courtyard. Immediately guests are enveloped by a tranquil ambiance, as the soft sounds of the waterfall fill the courtyard and palm trees sway in the breeze over lush gardens, which fill the space with native California plants.

The two-story, 9,200 square foot building features 11 stunningly unique suites and 5 ocean-front bungalows, featuring custom teak soaking tubs. Ample skylights and strategically placed sliding glass doors fill the spaces with an abundance of warm, natural light. Custom sudare shades provide privacy without closing off adjacent spaces, feeling simultaneously intimate and open. The rich natural material palette consists primarily of teak, bronze, and limestone.

Guest suites are defined by thoughtful Japanese inspired design elements. And while they have shared sensibilities and palettes, no two rooms are the same, therefore providing a unique experience for each visitor.

Some rooms hold modern interpretations of tatami mats and shoji screens, others include private courtyards and balconies where the sounds and sights of the ocean can be enjoyed. Furnishings are comfortable and welcoming with thoughtful fabrics in earthy linen tones.

Signature touches in the details have been carefully designed and artfully crafted from the knuckle joints of the exterior teak siding to the selected earth tones of the custom colored board-formed concrete walls. This project was a true collaboration between the design team, the owner, and the crafts people tasked with fabricating each element of construction.
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