this timber structure in japan disappears against its forested backdrop

this timber structure in japan disappears against its forested backdrop

in the early 1980s, YKK, the world’s largest zipper manufacturer, asked japanese architect fumihiko maki to design a building known as the ‘maezawa garden house’ in kurobe — a city in japan’s toyama prefecture. the property’s grounds include an undulating lawn, surrounded by trees, and an open air stage that was completed in 1989. this stage is a venue for the 2019 theater olympics, which is taking place in two locations in japan as well as saint petersburg, russia.

apldw white flower arbor
all images by kitajima toshiharu/archi photo



APL design workshop (APLdw), a firm based in tokyo, was appointed as the architectural office facilitating this international event. their brief involved creating a pavilion, or foyer, for the open air stage, which they had also designed decades previously. the roof of the structure, known as ‘white flower arbor’, is supported by a combination of 17 living trees and steel pillars. with the forest as its backdrop, the structure blends with its surroundings, becoming almost invisible.

apldw white flower arbor



the architects explain that the vertical load is supported by 17 trees and nine steel pipes, the latter of which provide resistance against earthquakes. originally, the structure was only to be used during the theater olympics. however, when the decision was made to retain the building, the design had to adapt accordingly. as the diameter of the tree trunks (8cm/3in) is not enough to support the region’s maximum snow depth, half of the roof will be removed before the winter so that it can be used for years to come.

apldw white flower arbor



‘louis khan once said that ‘schools probably began with a man under a tree, and around him the listeners to the words of his mind,’ says APL design workshop. ‘a tree can create a place for meeting anywhere in the world. the wildness of a tree may also endow a place with spirit. those who spend some time in white flower arbor will thus experience the true sense of ‘living together with nature’ as passed down from ancient times and their expressions will soften.’

apldw white flower arbor

apldw white flower arbor



project info:


name: white flower arbor and open air stage, maezawa garden
location: kurobe, toyama prefecture, japan
completion date: june, 2019
client: YKK corporation
architect: APL design workshop — ohno hidetoshi, eguchi hideki, yamamoto shinya, ikai yohei, iwata shinichiro
structural engineering: KONISHI structural engineers
mechanical and electrical engineer: sogo consultants
contractors: daiichi kensetsu (architecture), kurobe M-tech (mechanical and electrical), kurobe clean and green(gardening)
site area: 56,454.11 sqm
floor area: 98.94 sqm (white arbor), 70.57 sqm (dressing room)
photography: kitajima toshiharu/archi photo

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