Tadao Yoshida, the founder of YKK, wanted to create a place in Kurobe that could be used both by his staff as well as those living in the area. To realize his ambitions, he chose this site along the Otani River. Later, Tadahiro Yoshida succeeded his will and continued to develop Maezawa Garden.
First, the world-renowned architect MAKI Fumihiko, a Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate, was commissioned to design the guest house. Then, the English-style garden, comprised mainly of the Maezawa Garden House and lawn, was completed in 1982. Afterwards, the Open Air Stage was created on the south end by architect OHNO Hidetoshi in 1989. Its semicircular, stepped seating is laid with timber railroad ties. Facing it across from a circular mound is a gently sloping lawn. Both mound and lawn can be used as the stage, allowing for three different stage configurations. During the Theater Olympics, the sloping lawn was used as the stage, leading to a unique performance that made use of the singular stage depth.
This theater was selected as a venue for an international drama festival called the “Theater Olympics 2019,” which was held in Toga and Kurobe in Japan as well as Saint Petersburg in Russia. APL design workshop was appointed as the architectural office facilitating this international event.
White Flower Arbor functions as a foyer for the theater, whose roof is supported by 17 living trees (oaks and cedars) and steel pillars* . Louis Khan once said that “schools probably began with a man under a tree, and around him the listeners to the words of his mind.” A tree can create a place for meeting anywhere in the world. The wildness of a tree may also endow a place with spirit. Those who spend some time in White Flower Arbor will thus experience the true sense of “living together with nature” as passed down from ancient times and their expressions will soften.
As this gazebo sits on the foot of a slope covered by a forest – almost like a Japanese Shinto shrine – its entity sinking into the forest looks like a part of nature from the outside, while on the inside, its chilly air and darkness bring people in the gazebo to a world of myth
* To be precise, in terms of structural engineering, this structure is planned on a formula in which the vertical load on the roof is supported by 25 pillars that include the 16 living trees and 9 steel pipes, and the lateral earthquake load is resisted only by the steel pillars. The diameter of the tree trunks (8cm) is not enough to support the maximum snow depth in this district (150cm). At the beginning of this project, the gazebo was to be used only for this event this year, but due to the desire to continue using this space, it will remove the half of the roof before it snows.