The trees had guarded the family for 35 years. Then they had to be cut.
There are many examples of architecture that need to be consistent with both land and nature. In other cases, there is nature surrounding the architecture and new buildings.
It is also a known phenomenon that many architects are inspired by nature as they build a building while others try to bring nature into the building.
For the architects of Hironaka Ogawa in Kagawa, Japan, there were some old trees and what would happen to those who became the challenge as they would draw a new extension to a 35 year old house.
Sentimental value of the trees
It was when the daughter of the house got married and started looking for a home that this family got the idea of building the main house to make room for her daughter and her new husband. To the job of drawing the expanded hired family the architects from Hironaka Ogawa & Associates.
– Initially, the job of drawing a building block was quite straightforward and simple, Ogawa explains to the design and architecture site Dezeen.
– The main house was 35 years old, and now the house’s daughter, who had grown up in this home, had to make her own home in the new build-up.
On the part of the site where the new building was to be stood there were a few old trees that had to be removed to accommodate the project.
Do you have Norway’s dream cabin?
– Then I visited the plot for the first time and heard the story of how the family planted these trees when they moved here 35 years ago, Ogawa explains to the site.
– How the daughter’s earliest childhood memories drew a lot about play in and around these trees, where they climbed, built cabins or just sat still in the shade of the trees and read a book.
Then the architect decided that the trees had to be taken care of.
The trees had to join
It was impossible to implement the plans for the development of the trees as they stood on the plot so that the trees had to be united before the construction could begin. But the architect himself had become fascinated by the strong proud trees that defined the garden around the house.
– The trees had to join the new extension. There was no other solution.
– The two-story high-rise extends over the garden to the original house, explains Ogawa.
– And that’s the way the trees got in the way. Due to building conditions, it did not make it possible to add the enclosure to another angle of the house, so we had to think alternatively.
Check out the ingenious solutions
The solution was to chop down the trees – then re-plant them on the inside of the house.
– Trees that are so linked to the story of this family are too valuable to just chop down and get rid of, Ogawa explains to the famous Archaeologist Arch Daily.
– They are an intricate part of family history and have protected and guarded the house for more than 35 years.
So, instead of getting rid of the trees, the architect decided to make them the main element of the new house’s design and floor plan.
The trees could thus continue to be part of the family, Ogawa explains..
– And now, we could also utilize their size and strength for more than just a decorative garden.
Prest performed exorcism
It would turn out to be a bit of a job to bring the big trees into the house.
– We had to keep the trees as intact as possible, explains the architect.
– What we ended up doing was cutting down the trees, with all branches and roots intact. Then we reduced the water content of the trees by drying them for two weeks before being used as structural support columns inside the new building.
But before the trees could be chopped, a local Japanese Shinto priest had to execute an exorcism on the trees.
– It was after family wish, explains Ogawa.
– And something that, according to Japanese tradition, is to be done when you cut down trees to protect yourself from any powers and spirits that may live in that tree. This proved the family’s connection to the trees.
Once this was done, the trees were placed exactly where they had previously stood. Only this time on the inside of the wall.
Lowered the floor to make room
To accommodate the tall trees under the roof of the house, the architect had to lower the floor on the extension to below normal ground level.
– There are double ceilings in the central zones of the house, living room, dining room and kitchen, Ogawa explains..
– So here the trees really came true and their full height.
A messanine level stretches around the branches of the big trees, allowing space for bedrooms and offices.
– The bathrooms are tucked under the messanine, and belong to the more private zones of the house.
Walls and ceilings are painted in white, which allows the natural colors of the two trees to get extra well.
The architect believes the trees will continue to mean a lot. Also in the future.
– Once this house is demolished and a new building is being constructed on this site, perhaps by descendants of the family who live here today, maybe in a hundred years, I am sure you will continue to take care of these trees. They will be used and loved again, in one form or another.
Is this the world’s smallest hotel room?
How they got space for a garden in the middle of Tokyo
This will make Finnmarks go more to church
This house is built as a village