Third Nature wins a project in Inabe, Japan.

 As cities were in lock-down a mixed Danish and Japanese design team worked intensely on a sustainable tourism project located on the fringe on one of Japans most populated areas. The project marks a new shift towards low impact regenerative tourism, that focuses on developing regions sustainably.

The design team with Danish architects Third Nature, Japanese engineers Structured Environment and sustainability experts Henrik Innovation won the competition launched by the unconventional private-public cooperation between the outdoor company Nordisk and the city council of Inabe in Japan.

The new adventure park consists of three zones: an overnight section with cabins and platters for glamping tents, an area along the estuary where you can pitch your own tent and a learning area in nature where the activities are at the center. In the middle of the plan, a larger center building is built. The building will house the reception, shop and workshops and be a welcoming space for new guests.

The site is a former camping ground at the foot of the mountains of Inabe. The site will be completely cleaned for old buildings and be rebuilt in the most sustainable way, using only renewable materials and repurposed building waste. The project is set to open in spring 2021

“We believe the future is about circularity. Our proposal is composed by a family of circles that define a series of sustainable communities. The master plan and buildings embody a unique environment and a regenerative ‘hygge’ experience in nature. It is our hope that our project will become the base camp for a new type of regional nature-based development that promote sustainable awareness and brings the gift of nature to many urban dwellers.”, Flemming Rafn Thomsen, lead architect and Co-Founder of Third Nature.

Early civilizations in Denmark and Japan were founded in circular gatherings and were often centered around the appreciation of natural resources, fire, water and food. The circle is also a universal shape that symbolizes equality, openness and democracy. It has therefore become the core of the design-DNA itself that the group behind the project hopes to establish at the Ugakei Site in Inabe.

The mountain forest already has several trekking and hiking routes, with rich biodiversity and spectacular scenery. New routes will over time be developed and will provide a revitalization of the area and promote low impact recreation based on the natural resources of the region.

If societies are to enter the future in a truly sustainable way, the team believe we must rethink tourism and change the recreational industry. The projects will give the visitors the ability to learn new sustainable skills and evolve as individuals and as communities.

The project comprises a center building, cabins, event spaces, tent decks and landscape bridges, as well as service facilities and other site upgrades. There is also a large public camping area on a scenic river plateau featuring a creek from the mountain as well as several waterfalls. All new elements are based on a circular design, and they are designed to facilitate community, as well as stimulate out-door activity. The architects have designed for optimal micro-climate conditions, like wind and sun, in order to enhance the seasonal use. The center building is revolved around a central courtyard that protects from the wind in the early and late season, and features an optimized roof profile, that catches the low sun rays in the winter season, and provides shade in the hot Japan summer semester.



Project name: Nordisk Hygge Circles – Ugakei
Inabe, Japan
Nordisk and Inabe
Project Team:
Third Nature, Structured Environment and Henrik Innovation
Project type:
Invited competition
Expected to open in spring 2021


Inabe is a region of the medium-sized Japanese city of the same name, located between the big cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya, right in the middle of Japan’s main island, the elongated Honshu Island. On the outskirts of the region lies the natural area of Ugakei, where the park is to be established.

Nordisk is a Danish outdoor brand with its headquarters in Silkeborg, Denmark, where they develop products for great experiences in nature. Nordisk has huge success with their outdoor products in Japan.

The Danish architectural studio Third Nature (called Tredje Natur in Danish or サード ネイチャー in Japanese) think of their projects as ‘humane solutions to man-made problems’. They explore the territory between building and landscape and between the natural and the man-made. This optimistic yet challenging approach leads to innovative proposals for new building typologies and landscapes, that are developed with a deep understanding of nature’s ecosystem, as well as the pragmatics of cities, buildings and profession.

Structured Environment is an engineering company with departments in Japan, Denmark and the UK, specializing in minimizing the consumption of building materials.

Henrik Innovation is a consulting engineer who advises companies in the construction industry within energy, indoor climate and sustainability.