OBEL AWARD 2019: Water Garden by Junya Ishigami & Associates


The first project to receive the OBEL AWARD – a new international architecture award – is the Art Biotop Water Garden by Junya Ishigami & Associates. Situated at the foot of the Nasu mountain range in Tochigi, Japan, the carefully crafted, man-made landscape appears as a dreamlike flooded forest.

According to the jury, Ishigami’s extraordinary garden design resets the boundaries between architecture, landscape architecture, art and environment and demonstrates how to interact with nature in a respectful way. The OBEL AWARD is now collaborating with Aedes Architecture Forum to give more people the chance to experience Ishigami’s highly poetic landscape.

The exhibition takes place in both of Aedes’ large halls, and visitors will be able to enjoy drawings, photos and videos in safe surroundings. The Water Garden, designed by Junya Ishigami & Associates, is a new outdoor extension of the existing Art Biotop Nasu, an artist retreat in Tochigi, Japan.

The unusual landscape is formed of 318 trees, uprooted from an adjacent construction site and replanted around 160 artificial ponds of different sizes and shapes. A carpet of moss surrounds the ponds, and stepping stones create a carefully choreographed path system through the flooded forest space.

»From the start, it was not so much about creating something from nothing — but more about using the already existing environment and letting the passage of time create a new garden. If things created by humans should function next to natural things, the passing of time is necessary,« explains Junya Ishigami.

Ishigami proposed relocating the forest it in its entirety instead of cutting it down to make space for the construction of a new hotel complex. Each individual tree was described, measured and numbered, before being moved and placed at the adjacent site, a former paddy field, according to Ishigami’s design.

Utilising the existing irrigation system for the paddy field made it possible for the tree species, which do not thrive in wetland areas, to coexist with the countless ponds. All the ponds are interconnected through underground pipelines, diverting water to and from a nearby stream. Thus, through the careful reorganisation of four main elements – trees, water, moss and stones – an alternative man-made landscape, never to be found in nature itself, was created.

By reproducing natural environments, the Water Garden suggests a possible harmonious coexistence between nature and humankind in the future; in the same breath, it questions how we, as human beings, relate to our natural environment, our perception of nature, the role and use of technology, and humankind’s intervention in and manipulation of eco-systems. Source by Aedes Architecture Forum.

  • Location: Christinenstr. 18-19, 10119 Berlin, Germany
  • Organizazion: Aedes Architecture Forum
  • Exhibition: 13 May – 25 June 2020
  • Opening hours: Tue-Fri 11am-6.30pm, Sun-Mon 1-5pm
  • Photographs: nikissimo Inc, Courtesy of Aedes Architecture Forum

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *