In Japan, where few buildings are made to last, trees are mostly dispensable, and real estate remains among the world’s priciest, most architects simply nod politely to the notion of context.
But the Tokyo-based designer Hiroshi Nakamura worships it. Whether they are cupping leafy boughs, jutting between tree trunks, or echoing urban eclecticism, his quirky buildings fit their sites as perfectly as toes in a tabi sock. Nakamura’s environmental awareness began during his childhood in the city of Kanazawa, where he liked to build nestlike cardboard houses. As a student at Meiji University, he caught the attention of Kengo Kuma, who was serving as a competition juror and offered him a job in 1999.
In the Japanese town Oyama Hiroshi Nakamirae found space for a museum among 19 trees. Instead of starting with the building, Nakamura began this project by thinking about its garden. To render the site suitable for his vision of a museum, he had to transform the banal, suburban property in Tochigi Prefecture into a richly planted environment.
Designed to fill in the gaps between the trees in his man-made forest, the building dips to conform to low-hanging boughs and rises where there is a break in the foliage.
As if walking through a grove of trees, visitors stoop to enter the building, then experience art enhanced by views of nature.
In 2007 the architect completed a Tokyo apartment complex named Dancing Trees, Singing Birds and right now, Nakamura is working on Upper Forest, a large commercial complex that will actually add trees to the city.