‘ring around a tree’ by tezuka architects see designboom’s previous article on ‘ring around a tree’ by tezuka architects here.

design is not merely pivoting upon aesthetics, functionality, with growing concern and consciousness on environment, designers nowadays often have their mind on environmental issues and try to act on and incorporate the concept into their designs.

the hong kong design centre recognizes designers’ excellence with its annual design for asia (DFA) awards which is divided into 18 categories, including apparel and accessory design, communication design, product and industrial design, as well as environmental design. care for the environment is a concern to all designers in the world, everyone has his or her own interpretation and way of illustrating this. among the awardees of this year’s DFA awards, it was observed that designers in asia distinguish themselves from their counterparts in the rest of the world with their outstanding works in which asian values and styling are reflected. respecting the natural environment and the love of a legendary tree by residents in tachikawa, tokyo, tezuka architects from japan,

created ‘ring around a tree’ for the fuji kindergarten, one of this year’s DFA award winners.

built between the existing main building of the kindergarten and the street, the new construction creates spaces for play, foreign language instruction, and provides an area for the children to wait for the school bus. using wood and transparent glass, the building envelops a japanese zelkova tree whereby a vertical construction creates an upward spiraling space around its trunk, composed of wooden platforms, unobtrusive safety rails and space for the kindergarten students. the tree itself is not simply a tree, but a zelkova with a story and the true protagonist of the whole project. planted more than 50 years ago, it was hit by a typhoon and almost uprooted. the tree dried out completely, but recovered despite general disbelief. older residents of the area remember and adore the tree because it was the only tree for all children in the area that many of them climbed and played games.

DFA awards: design for environment ‘open architecture project’ by hiroki, fukiage, yoshiaki oyabu architects see designboom’s previous article on the ‘open architecture project’ here.

open architecture project, designed by hiroki, fukiage, yoshiaki oyabu architects in japan, involves the unique japanese notion

of layered scale and externality like the japanese traditional structure, hiroen, which was often seen in the past. the osaka-based project overcomes a perennial problem of lack of space in crowded japanese urban areas by making full use of a 3 x 25 meters long narrow space that has limited use otherwise. an extended multi-level recreational walkway linking five separate houses was created so that children, neighbors could partake in joint activities and open conversation together. a flat wooden deck was also made at the top allowing children to store their toys and residents to organize community activities.

the project clearly demonstrates the designers’ awareness of the specially congested environment of japan, showcasing their attentiveness to asian values through the use of a traditional structure.

DFA awards: design for environment left: ’embo hospital’ designed by long tsai corporation, taiwan right: ‘solo building’ designed by RAD, hong kong

designed by long tsai corporation in taiwan, embo hospital is a revolutionary designed health care institution in xiamen, china. the common mundane walls seen in hospitals are giving ways to waves of flowing curved line.

a revealing spiral staircase is the centerpiece of the hospital, which enhances its optical and spatial expansion. shaped like an embryo, it also symbolizes the start of life, reinforcing the mission of the health care facility. taking environmental concerns into consideration, the design utilizes recycled marble that would have become excess waste; reused and other sustained raw materials in its construction. this hospital is not only an inspiration for other similar sites around the world, but creates a brand new concept of hospitals for gynecology and obstetrics.

as one of the urban renewal projects in hong kong, solo building, designed by RAD from hong kong, successfully tackles visual pollution created by the densely distributed air-conditioners mounted on the exterior facades of city’s buildings. enclosing the air-conditioners in a distinctive yellow metal and wire box, with the building’s graphite-colored wall as backdrop, the residential structure transforms from an eyesore into a more aesthetically appealing tower.

the design team was inspired to use a distinctive yellow metal and wire boxes to enclose all the air-conditioning units installed in this revitalized building, which contrast against the dark graphite color of the building’s façade, and complementing the strong angular lines of the building’s main entrance in yellow as well. this building not only infuses energy to the neighborhood in the tai kok tsui old district, but also attempts to provide a solution to enhance the facades of the city’s aging buildings.