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Landscape for office environments 5/9


□ Occupational ability of landscape architects

I would like to mention about Tadao Kobayashi (1947-1998), who was more than two decades older than garden designers referred to the above.

He was actively working at the design department in Takenaka Corporation, and left many significant works before he passed away young. He was a talented artist in terms of passing on his own view by designing the place as well as conveying the genius loci to people. Even though he got all through much quickly and gone, he as a landscape architect maximized his experience in the position and role at a major construction company, namely a group of skillful technicians and designers, in order to practice the process of developing landscape design from the exterior design.

Let us review what landscape design is by introducing the works of Kobayashi. Hakozaki Building for Mitsui Warehouse (1989), Touyo Building for Meiji Life Insurance (1989), and Otemachi 1st Square (1998) were considered as major work examples for the business environment.

He described his trial to install the urban garden composing the space as like the circuit style garden with setting the concept “Sensibility of Japan” for the landscape on Hakozaki Building. The waterside where Japanese maples spreading over the surface of water, the stone paving, and gravel were exquisitely arranged in straight-lined design that, however, somehow leaves a soft impression reminding Sendougosho (palace of retired emperor). His philosophy “environment itself is an art” that the whole and parts are interrelated and communicated each other to create lively space has literally practiced. His works enlighten the essential intention in landscape design that transmits from an exterior design filling a property with various elements to a story-telling artistic space.

Kobayashi showed a different aspect on Otemachi 1st Square. It conceptualized to actualize new phenomena in the urban environment by representing natural elements lacking in the urban setting into a set of symbols. It is a space intending to capture urban garden experience by repeatedly representing all design elements kept minimal. The space has uniqueness in reconstructing the space with utilizing enhanced planting as landscape composition rather than emphasizing on orinal characters of plant materials.

Probably, what Kobayashi as a landscape architect outstood from forerunners was to create landscapes without same old method and materials but with his own bare expression that would only be applicable to the certain place at the certain time. By working strategically in a megalo-organization like Takenaka Corporation, he tried to establish significance of landscape architecture for self-actualization in a sequential flow of planning, designing, supervising, and maintenance, which landscape design office would never accomplish. We better reevaluate his achievement in not only his work but also his existence in the field of landscape architecture.

Yoshiki Toda

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