Watching trees meet untimely ends in the name of construction is heart-wrenching. But Japanese architectural firm Tezuka Architects figured out an elegant solution to the problem of a tree standing on the desired building site: they simply built around it. The Ring Around a Tree project surrounds and embraces a beautiful mature tree, encouraging interaction with the living architectural element.
(all images via: DesignBoom)
Built as an additional space for Fuji Kindergarten in Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan, this stunning building blends indoors and outdoors, natural and constructed, learning space and play space. The structure was built to be used as English language classrooms and a waiting space for students who are riding buses home. Half of the building is enclosed in glass while the other half features many levels of small platforms in an open-air configuration.
The platforms in the play space offer some very intriguing spaces for crawling children to romp and hide. There aren’t many barriers in this unusual space, but there is plenty of soft padding on the floors to cushion the unavoidable falls.
Two classrooms, each taking up one level of the building, use this unconventional space to create a liberating and stimulating learning environment. Although the auxiliary learning space is just a stone’s throw away from the main school building, having English language classes in this removed space allows students to enjoy the unique setting. The classrooms may even allow a greater chance for real-world experience-based lessons.
The centerpiece of the new structure is, of course, the mature tree in the very center. Its limbs and leaves were left intact as the beautiful building went up and remain untouched today. Children are encouraged to play around the tree, but for safety’s sake are not allowed to climb on the branches.