It takes a long time for a tree to grow, but every day, a lot of trees are cut down to clear the lot so new buildings can be erected. Creative and environmentally conscious architects take the existing trees into account when designing a new home, thus saving trees and helping preserve nature and our oxygen supply.
When Junsekino Architect and Design was commissioned to design a home for an extended family in Thailand‘S Samut Prakan Province, the plot lay vacant, except for a large tree. In order to retain the tree, the architect decided to build the dwelling around it as a series of low lying units arranged around an open courtyard like ‘seats under a rain tree.’
The separation of the units affords privacy while the courtyard allows family members to chat and socialize. Each unit has its own skylight as well as large windows, which on the one hand, provide views of the surrounding landscape, and on the other hand, preserve visual connection between the modules and family members inhabiting them.
Local studio Fabián M Escalante H Arquitectos also chose to preserve trees on a large plot of land with a dam in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, his customer chose for his holiday home. Aiming to design a residence that wouldn’t disturb the environment around it, the architect wrapped the building around the existing trees.
Designed as a place for rest and social activities, Rancho Sierra Allende has two entrances, with a footbridge leading to the house from the east and a large terrace providing space for socialising to the west. Seeking to create a subtle intervention in the landscape, but at the same time a space for multiple activities, the architect developed a public programme that allows to experiment with the space.
The façade is characterized by the gabled steel-clad volume of a double-height bar. This shape allows the team to play with two transversely intersected triangles: a tree stretches through the larger triangle, which is partly open to the outside, while the second one embraces the interior space.
The gabled roof references the local architecture in the rural part of Mexico where the Rancho Sierra Allende is located, while its striking rust-coloured steel finishing was a request from the client, who wanted a low-maintenance material and originally asked for Corten steel for the exerior. As the building process and time aged the house, the exterior, which was finished with a sealer, achieved the reddish hue it has today.
Japanese architect Kohei Yukawa, co-founder of Yukawa Design Lab, has designed a house for himself and his family in a suburb of Osaka as an array of flexible living spaces arranged around a double-height atrium with a tree at its centre.
The property looks directly onto a side street at the front, while at the rear is a small agricultural plot. Aiming to create a house where the environment – light, wind, greenery, colours and activities – respond to the living space, the architect included into his design a series of voids and openings that that circulate between the private road, the field and the inside of the house. These voids described by Yukawa as “margins” gave the project its name – Margin House.
A tree planted in the atrium enhances the sense of bringing the outdoors inside, and draws the eye upwards to the first floor. The split-level space containing the tree is based on the “doma” rooms found in traditional Japanese homes. These areas of compacted earth form a threshold between indoors and outdoors and were used for activities including cooking or as workspaces. In Margin House, the doma space is intended as a multipurpose zone for activities such as home working, children’s play, exhibitions and indoor barbecues.