Tokyo-born architect Koichi Takada looked to change the face of architecture since his university days. He’s been doing exactly that by taking inspiration from nature to design buildings. His architecture firm, Koichi Takada Architects, has become one of the leading players in the business ever since they won the interior design competition for the National Museum of Qatar. “We want to create places that are more organic and more beneficial to the human experience,” Koichi explains.
They recently proposed a design idea that would completely transform a Los Angeles neighborhood. For the mixed-purpose tower Sky Trees on South Hill Street in Downtown L.A., they envisioned a sculptural masterpiece featuring undulating timber slats that stretch 70 floors high. The timber base of the building lifts up around the edges like splayed petals opening up.
Harking Back to Simpler Times
Koichi’s childhood in the rural suburbs of Japan had a lot to do with inspiring him to follow nature’s design. “I grew up right next to the Tama River in Tokyo where nature was my playground,” he recalls. “The Tama River would draw water into the rice fields, and the landscape and how people interacted with it constantly changed with the seasons. We worked in harmony with nature.”
But it didn’t last: “As I grew up, urbanization started to happen. By the time I was a teenager, the town had completely changed.” This had a profound impact on the way he saw life. He valued the natural world around him and wanted to use his talents to reimagine man-made spaces. He traveled to New York City to study architecture, arguably the most urbanized places in the world.
Giving People That Sense of Retreat
It was his stay in New York City that gave him a strong sense of direction. He explains: “New York was my dream, but when I was there, I realized living in a concrete jungle was too much for me.” But one place, in particular, eased his mind: “When I went to Central Park, I felt like I could breathe, so I began to question why this can’t somehow be a part of architecture, giving people that sense of retreat. That was how I started to draw on nature as inspiration.”
We can see that profound source of inspiration living in his masterful creations. Pictured above is an interior shot of Qatar’s National Museum. The tall, undulating walls make the visitor feel as if they’re walking through a gorge, or snuck away in some cave. And despite the grandeur of the design, it feels quiet and peaceful. Major cities are developing awareness to the benefits of natural environments, making Koichi’s design philosophy a likely glimpse into the future of cities.