Comment from KOLs
Chien Chung PEI
successful integration of thoughtful buildings into site
Commits to respect individual trees and ecosystem. Its ephemeral, non-intrusive language and approach is most responsible design entry from shortlisted ones, although not perfect in terms of density and building footprint control. While attempts to blend with the natural environment are commendable, volume size remains a concerned to be addressed (avoid large building components in any of the typologies, and tight adjacency of volumes that create large master plan components). The fragmented language of some of the types is welcomed as an attempt to reduce the perceived scale of the buildings and helps them integrate in a natural, organic environment. The compact (and mostly elevated) building components are most successful in keeping with the main premise of landscape protection and tree preservation. The use of simple, recyclable and natural materials speaks to a larger commitment of sustainability in the design proposal. The architectural design aspirations are superior to other entries in that the scheme finds beauty and proposes spaces rich in appealing character without having to resort to extravagant and foreign morphology in the forest.
Thomas Heatherwick
Don't get much detail but the imagery is nice - has potential
A greatly ambitious design with interesting concept but some ideas are not addressing the fundamentals, end users would struggle to see connections.
Architecture for Trees
Entry numberYBRIBA-Tree-140340
Team namePark + Associates
Views 1161

BACKGROUND Dating back more than eleven thousand years ago, the epochs of the Holocene and Agriculture Revolution were defined by mankind’s vehement domestication of all living things, spanning from animals to agriculture. The Industrial Revolution subsequently exacerbated this process through technological advancements where the notion of all living things being subservient to Man’s egoistical needs eventually resulted in significant human impact on Earth’s ecosystems, a period defined as the Anthropocene. Eventually, this has resulted in an enlightened mindset of co-existence between Man and Nature. Amidst these cultural shifts, Trees are seen as protagonists carrying a multiplicity of histories and identities that have changed through time. The 261 trees are conceived as the clients for the scheme. Personified as orphaned refugees, they are rescued and homed in a new environment in Boda Guanzhou, to witness another new epoch of the Post-Anthropocene. Inspired by this altruistic and noble act of salvation, an architecture of selflessness that honours and dignifies the trees is explored in the masterplan. TREE AS THE CLIENT/ WHAT IS A TREE? As mentioned by Colin Tudge, “A tree is a big plant with a stick up the middle. Everybody knows that.” Hence, the proposals posit an unconventional take on the lives of trees, accentuating trees as keystone species in the world we live in. Unlike humans, the concept of death and live is blurred as trees contain both dead and living cells within one body. Modes of communication amongst trees stir away from human accustomed bodily movements and voices, where chemical, hormonal and slow-pulsing electrical signals or pheromonal scent signals are used instead. In fact, much of the secret life of trees is still unknown and the scheme strives to be a stimulus for the unearthing of these secrets. WHAT IS THE ARCHITECTURE? Similar to the altruistic stance of the Post-Anthropocene, Architecture becomes a backdrop and is subservient to its surrounding forestry. Unlike the Parthenon that is meant for the Goddess; the Torii gate that has the notion of entering into “somewhere”, through the walls that separate and connect, Architecture can serve more than just Man. Hence, architecture in the scheme assumes a tall order of being a catalyst to stimulate human consciousness in relation to nature. AN ARCHITECTURE FOR TREES Having lived through a lifespan of 1000 years, it is perplexing for one to grasp this extensive concept of time. Hence, perhaps it could be easier if one relates it to the Middle Age in Europe; Song Dynasty in China, or 100 years before Angkor Watt was built. The ancient trees can thus been seen as a generation that has witnessed the destruction of their homeland, a massacre of their kingdom and now given a new hope through a great escape aided by mankind. “Architecture For Trees” is thus coined as response that contemplates the essence of the brief and reinterpreting it as one that goes beyond eco-tourism, a higher order of selflessness. More than just mere shelters for man, the scheme explores a multiplicity of architectural gestures aimed at the betterment of the site and the sustained growth of the trees. The site is thus further investigated as an agglomeration of many micro-sites, each with its own micro-context and uniqueness. Hence, resulting in a series of catalysts that evoke an awareness of our being with nature. A plethora of cognitive experiences that reconnect Man with nature through various ways. THE SITE AS A BASIN The well-being of the site is conceived in totality, where care goes far beyond its immediate context. FORMS DO MATTER Building forms draw its significance through how it can better each micro-context. A mirror for self-reflection, a bowl to receive and disperse; a roof form that collects and filter; a retaining wall that detains and improve; villas that are expandable and dispensable; a ring form that frames; and a lifted linear treehouse that minimizes the obstruction for nutrients to flow downhills. CONSERVATION AND FUTURE FOR TREES The proposal offers a continuum of experiences in relation to the ancient trees, where the notion of conservation goes beyond creating notional fences protection and preservation. It is hoped that the scheme reinforces Man’s biophilic longing with nature and play an active role in being descendants of these trees, assisting in its future propagation and the betterment of its future generation that is to come. The conservation site thus becomes a repository of memories spurred by the selfless generations that sowed in this greater purpose, thus ensuring the longevity of these trees.