With its smooth curving lines, undulating roof and cedar wood facade, Shigeru Ban's latest hotel blends with unusual ease into the surrounding forest through which it, quite literally, winds itself.

It's not often that a structure is built so meticulously around the trees that grew there first. Yet this was the precise goal of Ban when the architect designed Shishi-Iwa House, a new 10-room boutique resort in the mountains of Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture.

The idea behind Shishi-Iwa House, which opened early this year, is as simple as the structure is innovative: to rewrite the rules of traditional hospitality and provide a restorative sanctuary from a fast-paced digital world, with the goal of sparking intellectual creativity in its visitors through a mix of world-class architecture, contemporary art and nature.