- Takeshi Nagasaki / N-tree
The project was to create a courtyard garden in the housing complex, ‘The Park House Ryougoku Residence’, which was constructed in Sumita district, Tokyo. It started to develop the concept with the Mitsubishi Jisho Residence Co., Ltd. team. The location, called Ryougoku is closely connected with Hokusai Katsushika, which led to my suggestion that one of his wood-block prints should be represented by a garden. The area for the garden was about 47 ㎡and faced the main entrance, which was reached from the street through the doors, the windbreak room and the Entrance Hall. My aim was to create something energetic that could provide a source of strength to the people who passed by the courtyard garden every day.
The wood-block print I chose was ‘Chie no Umi, Soushuu Choushi - Oceans of wisdom in Choushi city in Chiba prefecture’, which depicted struggling fishing boats in the rough sea. In the beginning, I noticed the expression produced by the lines in the picture in order to get a clue to the process of converting this planar print to a three-dimensional garden space, and then considered which material was used for the boat or the sea etc. respectively. I felt that it was not exciting to simply create a copied garden of the wood-block print. After reviewing Hokusai’s unique life and Art work, I was encouraged to express something new in the garden as a challenge. That meant that it should be as abstract as possible and express a sense of dynamic by designing the composition of the garden and controlling the directional strength of the materials.
The boat shaped stone, which acted as the center piece in this garden, had been dug out and placed there at Mt. Ena for 30 years. It weighed 5 tons and needed to be cut in half, because of the difficulty of carrying it into the garden site. As my intention was not to lose the strong impact the stone showed, it needed to be cut by design in order to reduce its weight and retain its best impression. The stone was cut in half diagonally and roughly 30 cm amount of material from the middle of the stone was removed, furthermore, the bottom of the stone was cut diagonally in order to reduce its weight by 1 ton or more. The boat stone was shaped, the depth 3.6 m, width 0.9 m and height 0.6 m was separated into two parts, which were placed in a staggered, twisted and tilted position into the shape of the letter ‘L’ and uplifted at an extreme angle and placed on the white granite, as if the boat ran upon white horses in the ocean. And then, the rough stormy sea was created by paving Blue Teppei slates on edge to resemble ripple and white granite was hammered and chiseled to create uneven surfaces in order to express dynamic white horses. The mountain scenery was created by mixed planting of pruned low shady evergreen trees and shrubs, such as Cleyera japonica ‘Tricolor’, Eurya japonica, Eurya emerginata, Sarcoccoca confusa and Aucuba japonica ‘Variegata’. Those variegated plants were used in order to provide a bright impression into the place with a little sunshine.
This garden gives the feeling that the small space looks bigger than it really is by the use of extreme perspective from all directions. The three-dimensional expression produced by the various angled shapes and the controlled sense of weight, which forces viewers to move their gaze around and also the colours, shapes and curving lines of the natural materials, which resemble the sea and the mountains is what I call; ‘A homage to Genius Hokusai’.