The youngest and oldest members of a Japanese community gather under the bulbous canopy of a multi-generational sanctuary designed by Takashige Yamashita Office that forms a new community hub, like a big tree. Leanne Amodeo writes for Cubes 86.
9 June, 2017
Landlocked Yamanashi prefecture is well known for its forests and natural parks, but it’s the imposing beauty of sublime Mount Fuji that’s truly memorable. Strict building regulations are in place in the area to ensure nothing detracts from the picturesque views of Japan’s most iconic mountain. Yet within this conservative built environment, Toranoko Nursery designed by Tamashige Yamashita Office, is a strikingly unexpected form.
Yet within this conservative built environment, Toranoko Nursery designed by Takashige Yamashita Office, is a strikingly unexpected form.
Situated in the middle of an aged-care complex in Lake Kawaguchiko-cho area, and flanked by three box-shaped health and housing facilities, the nursery caters to the children of the staff but is also used by the complex’s elderly residents as a place for relaxation and respite.
Catering to both the very young and very old may have proved problematic, however architect Takashige Yamashita’s elegant response makes for a very welcoming outcome. As he explains, “My intention was to encourage people to come together and to create a space in which everyone feels free to gather, like people do under a tree.”
Yamashita’s resulting design concept is based on a large crown canopy that functions as a delicate, oversized umbrella, offering shade and shelter. The undulating roof has quickly become a landmark in the area and is undoubtedly the project’s most compelling design expression. Constructed from 50 x 50 millimetre laminated veneer lumber (LVL) sandwiched between 9 millimetre structural plywood, the structure’s lightweight appearance further heightens the dynamism of its central arch, which spans an impressive nine metres. Interestingly, the roof’s undulations visually soften the single-level building and in a respectful nod to context, echo the organic formations of its natural surrounds.
Read the full story in Cubes 86! Photography by Kenichi Suzuki (unless otherwise stated)
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