Recently a director and landscape designer from 5bai Midori took me on a tour of three projects in Meguro, two residences across from each other and an apartment building. The two houses in Kami Meguro are across from eachother, with one residence garden inspiring its neighbor. Above you can see how the plants have thrived after seven years, with vines reaching the third floor roof garden, and an interesting mix of small plants, shrubs and trees framing the entrance. With the plants reaching maturity, you hardly see the boxes that are the foundation of the garden system. Because the plants are all local natives, maintenance is just twice per year.
The “Moegi” apartment building in Kakinokizaka below was designed by an architect who wanted to maximize greenery with 5bai Midori. Plants are placed along the sidewalk, in the main entrance, private courtyard, and side bicycle storage area. Above the street level, there is a ledge running the entire width of the building that is completely covered in 5bai Midori boxes.
The first of the Kami Meguro houses has a wild exterior that contrasts with the typical cinder block wall of the neighboring property.
Its side entrance consists of gently sloping pebble steps also based on 5bai Midori’s box system. The feeling is organic, private and charming.
You can see my previous posts about 5bai Midori and its founder Tase Michio. Below the jump are some additional photos of these three projects.
Inside the gate is a very narrow wood deck, with built in bench and tall bamboo for privacy. I like how a 5bai Midori box sits inside and flush with the deck, supporting a tree.
The maximalist aesthetic extends to a small sloping roof on top of another entrance. The more recently added boxes support greenery that connects with trellised vines.
The concrete Kami Meguro house, whose entrance photo is at the top of this post, after seven years of growth includes trees that extend beyond the second floor windows. Interestingly, the depth of the garden is less than one meter, a narrow space that is still able to support an enormous amount of plant material.
Finally, above the garage door, a wisteria vine now covers the entire side of the house and connects to the roof garden. Below is my photo from July 2009. The photos below mine are from 5bai Midori showing the original 2002 planting and its appearance in 2006 (click for larger version).
The photos below provide additional views of the Moegi apartment building in Kakinokizaka: the first a view from the sidewalk, suggesting the impact on the neighborhood; the second a view from the new civic cultural center across the street that shows the apartment building’s children’s library entrance and second story plant boxes; the third from 5bai Midori that shows how the vines in the side storage area have grown from 2006 to 2009 (click for larger version).
Update: Since my original post, 5bai Midori has provided me with additional information about the Kakinokizaka project. The landscape designer Tase Michio’s concept is that cities need more than trees: they also need shade, plants that clean the air and lower the urban temperature. What makes this project particularly compelling is the collaboration between landscape architect and building architect that took place at the earliest stage of project concept.
The interior courtyard has a three story willow tree that was removed from the site prior to construction and then returned. In addition to the roof top garden, Tase-sama put several wooden perches to encourage birds to bring seeds that will cover the roof, lower construction and maintenance costs, and allow the building to become part of the natural cycle.
The courtyard water feature uses rain water captured from the roof and stored in a basement tank. And, finally, the vines along the front of the building are intended to keep the building cool from the western sun.