Garden Tree House by Hironaka Ogawa & Associates

Garden Tree House by Hironaka Ogawa & Associates

Location: Kagawa , Japan
Year: 2012
Photo courtesy: Daici Ano

This is an extension project on a thirty-five year-old house for a daughter and her husband. Azelkova tree and a Camphor tree stood on the site since the time the main house was build thirty-five years ago.  Removing these trees was one of the design requirements because the new additional building could not be built if these trees remained. 


When I received the offer for the project, I thought of various designs before I visited the site for the first time.  However, all my thoughts were blown away as soon as I saw the site in person. The two trees stood there quite strongly. I listen to the stories in detail; the daughter has memories of climbing these trees when she was little.


These trees looked over the family for thirty-five years.  They colored the gardenand grew up with the family.  Therefore, utilizing these trees and creating a new place for the client became the main theme for the design. In detail, I cut the two trees with their branches intact.  Then I reduced the water content by smoking and drying them for two weeks.  Thereafter, I placed the trees where they used to stand and used them as main structural columns in the center of the living room, dining room, and kitchen.


In order to mimic the way the trees used to stand, I sunk the building addition 70 centimeters down in the ground.  I kept the height of the addition lower than the main house while still maintaining 4 meter ceiling height. By the way, the smoking and drying process was done at a kiln within Kagawa prefecture.  These two trees returned to the site without ever leaving the prefecture.


The client asked a Shinto priest at the nearby shrine to remove evil when the trees were cut.  Nobody would go that far without a love and attachment to these trees. When this house is demolished and another new building constructed by a descendant of the client hundreds of years from now, surely these two trees will be reused in some kind of form.

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