Located in a verdant residential neighborhood in the city of Fukuoka, this is the first office and showroom in western Japan for Maruhon, a manufacturer of natural wood for interiors. The design highlights the rich detail of Maruhon’s products, evoking the image of a huge tree that seems to have stood on the site for many years.
The client requested a workspace and area for storing and displaying over four hundred sample boards on the approximately 70m2 site. We responded by transforming the wooden building itself into a device for displaying samples, so that architecture, furniture, and product become three aspects of the same form. Because the structure serves as the finished surface, the project required both scrupulous construction planning and rigorous quality control, making highly skilled, experienced carpenters essential.
Stepping inside the building from the gentle slope where it sits, one is immediately greeted by a striking space filled with countless samples of natural wood. The spacious, two-story atrium begins a half-floor below ground, with a skylight over the second-floor office. The first-floor showroom and workspace, which is reached by descending four steps, includes a ledge below the wrap-around shelves that serves as a table where designers and clients can handle samples in an inspiring, uplifting space. Throughout the building, windows are kept to a minimum to enhance the experience of being surrounded by wood.
The exterior walls of the oval building are made of Japanese cedar planks from the Tenryu region, seamlessly interlocked to emphasize the play of light and shadow and stained with natural plant dyes (produced from leaves, berries, and roots collected through the seasons) to enhance the attractiveness of the wood. As time passes, we anticipate that the building will blend further into its surroundings, becoming as much a symbol of the neighborhood as an iconic old tree.
*This project has received full certification from the Forest Stewardship Council, the world’s most trusted sustainable forestry certification organization.