Tag Archives: trees

A Bird’s Nest Tearoom Perched Atop a 300-Year-Old Camphor Tree in Japan 

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All photos by Koji Fujii for Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP

Architect Hiroshi Nakamura had always been intrigued by how some crows utilize found coat hangers as a structural element in their nests. With this idea in mind, a unique opportunity presented itself when treehouse builder Takashi Kobayashi contacted him with an unusual site for a tearoom: 10 meters above the ground in a 300-year-old cinnamomum camphora tree growing precariously on the side of a mountain that overlooks the ocean in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. Using the coat hangers as a starting point he designed the Bird’s Nest Atami Tearoom using a variety of minimally invasive construction techniques meant to protect the integrity of the tree.

“Hangers are not only durable but also highly elastic, and they offer more hooks to connect than branches and hence are easier to assemble,” he shares. “Crows, flying deftly across the dichotomy of natural and artificial, are creating a functional and comfortable environment.” Thus the tearoom became a lightweight scaffold-type structure that works in harmony with the trees branches instead of being directly anchored to it. From Nakamura’s notes on the project:

For the foundation, we carefully inserted pier type foundations between the roots in order to avoid the use of concrete and large-scale excavation. Using the structure itself as scaffolding, we assembled it by avoiding the branches as birds create their nest, adding or taking out components based on structural analysis. We mortared the room interior to be like a swallow’s nest. The design leaves open the possibility for visitors to experience nest building by picking up branches from the mountain side and fitting them into walls inside.

The tearoom is part of the KAI Atami resort, and you can see more views both inside and out on the Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP website. Please take me with you. (via ARCHatlas)

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A Glimpse into Onbashira, the Dangerous Japanese Log Moving Festival 

If riding a giant log down a steep mountain sounds like an ideal way to spend a quiet spring afternoon, the Onbashira Festival is for you. Held every 6 years in Nagano, Japan, the festival involves moving enormous logs over difficult terrain completely by hand with the help of thickly braided ropes and an occasional assist from gravity as the logs barrel down hills. The purpose is to symbolically renew a nearby shrine where each log is eventually placed to support the foundation of several shrine buildings. The event has reportedly continued uninterrupted for 1,200 years.

Onbashira is split into into two parts, Yamadashi and Satobiki, taking place in April and May respectively. Yamadashi involves cutting down and transporting the logs, each of which can weigh up to 10 tons. The logs are harnessed by ropes and pulled up to the tops of mountains by teams of men and then ridden down the other side. The event is exceedingly dangerous and comparable to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, where a brush with peril is seen as a form of honor. The second part, Satobiki, is a ceremonial raising event where participants again ride atop the logs and sing as each is hoisted into the air. Participants of both events are frequently injured and sometimes killed, but despite the obvious risks the tone of Onbashira is quite festive with lots of singing, music, and colorful costumes.

Filmmakers from Oh! Matsuri were at the festival this year and edited this beautiful glimpse into the obscure tradition.

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Ash Dome: A Secret Tree Artwork in Wales Planted by David Nash in 1977 

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In 1977, sculptor David Nash cleared an area of land near his home in Wales where he trained a circle of 22 ash trees to grow in a vortex-like shape for an artwork titled Ash Dome. Almost 40 years later, the trees still grow today. The artist has long worked with wood and natural elements in his art practice, often incorporating live trees or even animals into pieces. The exact site of Ash Dome in the Snowdonia region of northwest Wales is a closely guarded secret, and film crews or photographers who are permitted to see it are reportedly taken on a circuitous route to guard its location. Nash shares in an interview with the International Sculpture Center:

When I first planted the ring of trees for Ash Dome, the Cold War was still a threat. There was serious economic gloom, very high unemployment in our country, and nuclear war was a real possibility. We were killing the planet, which we still are because of greed. In Britain, our governments were changing quickly, so we had very short-term political and economic policies. To make a gesture by planting something for the 21st century, which was what Ash Dome was about, was a long-term commitment, an act of faith. I did not know what I was letting myself in for.

Dr. James Fox recently visited the artwork for the BBC’s Forest, Field & Sky: Art out of Nature (YouTube) featuring six different land artists in Britain. You can see an excerpt regarding Ash Dome below, as well as footage of Nash working on the piece further down. (thnx, Elsie!)

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Suspended Tree Sculptures Connect an Artist to His Cuban Roots 

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“Espiritual conexion” (2012), paper, cable, fabric, acrylics and wood, 17.7 x 39.3 x 19.6 inch, all images via Jorge Mayet

Jorge Mayet's tree sculptures produced from paper, wire, fabric, and acrylic showcase the ways in which a tree’s roots often mimic the branches that sprout above ground. In these suspended works the underground systems are far more expansive than what appears above the earth, showing the viewer that what typically appears before us is only half of the real picture. Hanging from invisible wires, Mayet works are a conceptual connection to his own memories and roots growing up in Cuba, a visual metaphor for being uprooted from his home country.

The Cuban expatriate currently lives and works in Mallorca, Spain where he focuses his practice on allegorical landscapes like the ones seen here. You can see more of Mayet’s sculptures on his Facebook. (via Cross Connect Magazine)

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“Me desprendo de ti” (2009), paper, wire, fabric and acrylic, 66.9 x 23.6 x 23.6 inch

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Close up of Me desprendo de ti (2009), paper, wire, fabric and acrylic

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“Untitled” (2009), paper, wire, fabric and acrylic, 39.3 x 19.6 x 19.6 inch

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“Ochún” (2009), wood, paper, wire, fabric and acrylic, 39.3 x 19.6 x 19.6 inch

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“Sobre natural” (2008), wire, paper maché, textil and acrylics, 62.9 x 33.8 x 33.8 inch

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“A todos mis santos” (2008), paper, wire, acrylics and yarn, 45.2 x 27.5 x 23.6 inch

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“Corazón de Fuego” (2010), paper, cable, fabric, acrylics and resin, 55.1 x 33.4 x 33.4 inch

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“Tierra nueva” (2009), paper, wire, fabric and acrylic, 39.3 x 19.6 x 19.6 inch

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“Culto dialéctico de lo sagrado” (2010), paper, feathers, beads and acrylic, 15.3 x 53.1 x 26.3 inch

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Air Bonsai: Levitating Magnetic Bonsai Trees by Hoshinchu 

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Despite the visual beauty and life-giving nature of plants, there’s always been one main problem with our vegetative friends: plants can’t fly. A small company called Hoshinchu based out of Kyushu, Japan, recently set out to fix the problem that evolution forgot by inventing the Air Bonsai, a system for magnetically levitating small bonsai trees several inches above a small electrified pedestal. The system allows you to create your own miniature Avatar-like worlds with tiny trees or shrubs planted in balls of moss, but is also powerful enough to suspend special ceramic dishes of fragments of lava rock.

Air Bonsai is currently funding like crazy on Kickstarter and is availble in a number of configurations starting with a base DIY kit for $200 that requires you to use your own plants up to more elaborate designs that may only ship in Japan. (via Spoon & Tamago)

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Functional Shelves and Tables Built From Fallen South American Trees 

"Bilbao (Treet Shelf)," native wood, stainless steel, and glass, 150”x50”x30”

“Bilbao (Tree Shelf)”

Artist and designer Sebastian Errazuriz allows natural form to dictate his furniture design, building shelves and tables that conform to the tree structures that inspire his work. Highlighting the tree’s shape as focal point, Errazuriz keeps his designs simple, placing only thin panes of glass to add the functionality needed for shelves or tabletops. The trees he incorporates into his designs are sourced from forests in South America, readapting their fallen branches while keeping the integrity of trees’ original shape (like the root system seen in his Tree Table below).

Although Errazuriz’s designs tend to be minimal, he is also fond of adding a dash of the absurd. “It’s important to me that a project consist of just a little twist,” he said, “because I ultimately want people to see the obvious, the everyday differently.”

The Chilean artist received his Master’s in Fine Arts from New York University and is currently based in New York City. Errazuriz is represented by Cristina Grajales Gallery and Salon94. You can see more images of his work on his Facebook and Instagram. (via My Modern Met)

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“Bilbao (Tree Shelf)”

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Bilbao (Tree Shelf), detail

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Bilbao (Tree Shelf), detail

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Bilbao (Tree Shelf), detail

"Metamorphosis Shelf"

“Metamorphosis Shelf,” carved wood, 2010 , 56 3⁄4” x 127” x 14 1⁄2”, edition of 12

"Metamorphosis Shelf"

“Metamorphosis Shelf,” carved wood, 2010 , 56 3⁄4” x 127” x 14 1⁄2”, edition of 12

"The Tree Coffee Table"

“The Tree Coffee Table,” native wood, stainless steel and glass

"The Tree Coffee Table"

“The Tree Coffee Table,” native wood, stainless steel and glass

"The Tree Table"

“The Tree Table,” native wood, stainless steel, and glass, 150”x50”x30”

"The Tree Table"

“The Tree Table,” native wood, stainless steel, and glass, 150”x50”x30”

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