A tiny oasis for tea lovers is perched in an unlikely place—the canopy of a 300-year-old Camphor tree. Designed by Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP in collaboration with treehouse builder extraordinaire Takashi Kobayashi, the Bird’s Nest Atami is a small tearoom that serves as the crown jewel of Kusukusu, Japan’s largest treehouse. Located in the Shizuoka Prefecture, the sprawling treehouse was commissioned by the Risonare resort in Atami, and amazingly, is completely freestanding so as to not damage the centuries-old tree.
Architect Hiroshi Nakamura drew inspiration for the Bird’s Nest Atami from crows that build their nests using clothes hangers, an approach he describes as “flying deftly across the dichotomy of natural and artificial…creating a functional and comfortable environment.” Those observations were applied to the design of the freestanding building that minimizes impact by avoiding contact with the 22-meter-tall camphor tree. Since the building site was set on a difficult steep slope, the treehouse was carefully inserted 10 meters off the ground using a combination of manpower, 3D modeling, and light structural elements that could be easily assembled and structurally sound.
“It is architecture assembled by intertwining components small enough to carry,” writes Nakamura. “The architecture can adapt flexibly to the tree form (as opposed to “site form”) and melts into the forest crowded with dark branches.” The final result comprises a support structure made of wood and steel that culminates in the cozy Bird’s Nest Atami, mortared into the shape of a swallow’s nest with a cozy interior. A series of activities and other sprawling built spaces surround the raised teahouse, including a coffee stand, picnic area, and even zip lines.
Images via Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP, by by Koji Fujii / Nacasa and Partners Inc.