Hikawa, Okutama Town, Tokyo Prefecture, 2010
Landscape Architects: studio on site
Architects: Mitsumasa Sanpei (infield architects)
Structural Engineer: Yasunori Kirino
Client: Okutama Town
Change: designing a therapeutic experience along the steep hillside of an abandoned forest
Forest therapy trails are usually developed in native mixed forest. This 1.3 km trail presents a unique therapeutic experience in the monoculture of an abandoned coniferous forest. Located on the edge of Okutama village, the trail weaves along the steep northern slopes to develop a linear living room experience. Initially focusing on mental health, ambitions were expanded to offer access to the elderly population of the surrounding village. With a tight budget, finding an appropriate design language was challenging. The timesaver standards of forest civil engineering offered a starting point. Timber logs provided a budget-friendly building material. Tilted retaining walls were reimagined as a timber-clad backrest for seats, while decks and other furniture were constructed from polyhedron logs. Seating areas are carefully designed to rest the body in precise therapeutic positions, while platforms, structures and more informal seating draw focus to the sounds and the changing light conditions of the pine forest.