Kumano forest information center project

Owase, Mie

This was an entry in a competition for an information center whose theme was the natural preservation of forests. I once visited Muir Woods, a grove of virgin redwood trees north of San Francisco. I learned then that the very presence of human beings is destructive to a forest. When human beings enter a forest, they introduce new light and air into that forest. That alters the forest ecology and destroys nature. Light and wind, which we normally consider a part of nature, can prove destructive to the natural environment of a virgin forest. It was made painfully clear to me that there is no one, correct definition of nature. In this case, I wanted to create a space that would enable visitors to sense the reality, meaning and character of nature in a virgin forest. A road is a form that permits minimal contact between a forest and human beings. By contrast, an outdoor space such as a plaza or a courtyard lets in an abundance of sunlight and permits the free circulation of air. Here I proposed an architecture of forest and road. The proposed building does not possess architectural elements familiar to us such as columns and roofs. Timbers made from trees cut near the site are piled up almost casually, and an interior space in the form of a road is cut through them. Inside, there is only the light that has passed though the structure of piled timber. I wanted the experience of this building to be like a walk in the woods. I felt that providing such an experience should be the only function of a forest-related information center.