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“Phase Dance” Residence

A Rhythmic Language

Takeshi Hirobe Architects

“Phase Dance” Residence

Over the last few decades, spurred on by growing ecological awareness around the world, trees have taken on a new totemic function. For as long as humankind can remember, large, solitary trees and dense forests have populated myth and religion, not just for their power and permanence, but because they represent natural cycles in a simple and complete way. 
Now that secularized, contemporary western society has realized we have to impose limits on growth driven solely by economic interest, these huge plant structures have emerged as living cathedrals for a movement that aspires - as American professor and biologist Barry Commoner once said - to squaring the circle, to returning humanity’s evolutionary discourse to the high road, avoiding the wrong turn that the market economy has sent us down. 
This new principle has become evident in recent decades in architecture. Many contemporary works display an ever-greater focus on constructing the environment, literally embracing these age-old, beautiful living things by making them an integral part of design. The resulting creations offer a new balance between the natural and man-made worlds, a landscape capable of evolving and changing over time, at differing speeds for humans and for trees, which aspire to many centuries of life.
This house by Takeshi Hirobe Architects falls into this design category. It is a combination of a contemporary ecological sensitivity with a spirit inspired by the Shinto religion, whose roots still run deep in Japanese society. Shinto’s inbuilt reverence of Nature and its manifestations conceive great trees as tutelary deities of humanity, lingering friends on whom we may rely during the limitedness of our own lives. 
When the designer encountered a tall specimen of Stewartia with its distinctive orange-hued bark (a tree that belongs to the camellia family, and blooms magnificently), he decided his design would wrap itself around the...

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