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.