Rising like a haphazard heap of wooden beams in Osaka, Japan, Urban Woods is a recent re-skinning project that updated an existing building with a cool new exoskeleton. Ivy has been planted at the base, and in just a short time the parasitic installation will be almost completely covered in greenery. As it stands now, the crazy addition alongside a busy street is just something interesting to look at, but when fully grown, the building will act as an urban forest, exhaling clean air into the streets and providing shade for the building. Urban Woods was designed by Yoshiaki Oyabu Architects and has received a 2011 JCD Design Award.
The goal of the renovation was to reintroduce the concept of nature alongside a wide and very busy street. Additionally, the clients hoped to improve the commercial appeal of the building through a more interesting and aesthetically pleasing facade. The installation is conceived as a small forest composed of a random assemblage of wood beams that loosely wrap the building’s volume. Natural materials and an organic arrangement contrast with the organized steel and glass building. It is as though a parasite had sprouted at the base of the building and was taking over.
The ‘forest elements’ can be easily seen from the interior and even work their way inside, spreading onto the ceiling like a system of roots. As part of the installation, a long bench and outdoor terrace were also created within the exoskeleton to create a semi-private space outside. Trees and ivy have been planted around the building and will grow along the beams, eventually encasing them completely. The end result will be an ivy covered structure that improves the aesthetics of the industrial building in a busy area. The ivy and beams also act to shade the building, keeping the interior cool, and the installation will be a buffer against the street noise.
Images ©Yoshiaki Oyabu Architects