Apr 29, 2011

On Tree

Very often, we see a tree put alongside a building as a complimentary object, but rarely have we thought about comparing them, and sometimes don't even think they're related.

Ito was one who explicitly took the motive of trees on the street as the facade of his Tod's Omotesando building, despite rather superficially in my opinion, one can see from here the fact that there're times when a building and a tree would have similar scales and proportions. This much is probably as good as it needs to establish some sort of connection.

The thing is - subjectively speaking from my personal imagination - while sharing similar scale and proportions, one feels comfortable and relaxed under the tree but not so much when under/out by the building. Perhaps it is too hard to put the two into a direct comparison. Instead, I would like to talk about a few things on 'Tree' only, hoping at the end some hints to building-making can possibly come into view.

1. Coherent

A tree does not have a facade. Its outer layer is just where the entire figure stops growing and expanding. Being away from, under or up on the tree has a rather similar sensation in that its expression does not change drastically. In order words, it is a smooth, gradual and continuous transition of space that never completely cuts away from one another.

2. Porous and Transparent

A tree is probably one of the most porous being under earth's elements. Sunlight, wind, rain, insects and animals gently and freely pass through it. Within or under a tree exists a micro environment that is at once individual while highly in-sync with the greater natural environment. The porosity also enables good visual extension into or out from the tree, which I thought is simply intriguing and interesting.

3. Green and Differed

Being largely green in colour makes a tree simply the most eye-soothing and relaxing thing to look at. Besides, like human being, no two trees share identical look and form. I personally find it interesting on how each trees gives different, suggestive images that intrigue our imaginations much more than the solidity of buildings blocks.

4. Ordinary

'Tree' is one of the first terms we learn as a child and hence it almost never occur as a strange existence to us. Tree seems so ordinary (and kind) to us that sentiments toward it easily born into our minds. Hence, there're many who thought of certain trees as important aspects of their respective (childhood) memories.

5. A Link to the Environment

Many times, we look at the tree to find out if it's raining, windy or sunny outside. A tree reacts to the environmental conditions throughout each day, each season. Without noticing, we always casually relate to the natural environment through the tree right outside our windows, visually and mentally. Buildings, on the other hand, tends to distinct themselves from the nature.

I’ve thus far managed to come up with the ‘5 points of a Tree’ (high 5! Le Corb) that seem to have been only describing a tree, but probably a relationship or idea can sometimes be best found in the least obvious ways and the least forceful references.

One can try to achieve the quality of a tree in a building in many ways, and probably there have been quite some a of examples already, especially amongst the so-called sustainable architecture. But looking at my points one should understand that I tend to contemplate a tree not in its functionality, but its spatiality. A completed example I would most appreciate currently is the Tama Art Library in Tokyo, again by Ito which I feel, has certain qualities of a ‘tree’ far more implicit & effective than that of the Tod’s mentioned at the start.


Apr 28, 2011

Jun Igarashi Architects: Layered House

'Layered House' by Japanese practice Jun Igarashi Architects is a two-storey dwelling for a family of four located east of Hokkaido in the old city district of Saroma-cho. The design designates long slices of the floor plan to separate programs, creating with a linear compilation a house that is literally layered from one end to the other.

The site is surrounded by a heavily-used street to the north, a co-op farm to the east, a warehouse to the west, and the house of the clients' parents to the south. Taking these conditions as a point of departure, the design pins its directionality to the south where a small garden is placed and creates a closed-door atmosphere for the rest of the house, creating a sense of ease and comfort for the inhabitants. The north, east, and west faces are limited in windows while a large opening to the south places natural light at the center of focus. (to find out more)


Aldo Cibic: Rural Urbanism at Rethinking Happiness

'Rethinking happiness' is a research project showing 4 different new possible communities on a total suface of 40mq.

Curated by Italian architect and designer Aldo Cibic, the model is presented at the 12th Venice Architecture Biennale under the theme 'people meet in architecture' curated by Kazuyo Seijima.

Rural Urbanism
The city enters the countryside, the country enters the city.

One hour from Shanghai, a large rural territory with an ancient agricultural tradition is crushed between a growing industrial zone and a new city.

The idea is to create an agricultural park of 4 sq km inhabited by 8000 persons with low-density residential structures, preserving the agriculture and offering green spaces for the inhabitants. The project calls for a group of elevated buildings on the streets, to create a perpendicular grid that floats over the countryside.

In the middle of this 'agricultural central park' there are specialized farms that produce crops for the sustainable, profitable development of the countryside. The challenge is to create a new community with shared services, new activities and relationships, in tune with the territory. (to find out more)


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