The Japanese architect Akihisa Hirata (previously) has always been interested in the tangled, organic structure of trees. A tree consists of roots, a trunk, branches, leaves and flowers. And it is made unique and beautiful by the moss and fungi that grows on it, and the bugs and birds and squirrels that inhabit it. For Hirata, who worked for the luminary architect Toyo Ito for 8 years before establishing his own office in 2005, his latest work, “Tree-ness House” in Tokyo, may very well be the perfect embodiment – a metamorphosis, if you will – of Hirata’s philosophy.
In the same way that it takes years for a tree to grow, the Tree-ness House too spent years in conceptual stages before it came to fruition. Hirata originally met his client Taka Ishii, who owns 3 eponymous art galleries – two in Tokyo and one in New York – in 2009 when Hirata staged an installation called Flame Frame at the gallery offices (we actually covered it back then).
Ishii was sick and tired of the white cube space. His office was a white cube, his gallery was a white cube. All the museums he visited were also white cubes. So he wanted something completely different to come home to. And he thought that Hirata could design something for him.
Hirata did not disappoint. Although the original plan called for an aggressive 8 stories, this was paired down and the final residence, which includes a gallery space on the ground level, is made from an organic layering system that tangles boxed spaces, numerous voids that are cut into the boxes to create ambiguous indoor/outdoor spaces and gardens.It was completed in late 2017.