This Old Tree…

A 300+ year old tree in downtown Fuzhou, China had been viewed as a nuisance, and was slated for removal by an earlier design team. The ancient tree had been part of a group of trees that had once marked a meeting place for the town centuries ago.

Mr. Li Xin, the owner, invited our office to collaborate on a new design concept for the mixed use site. The ancient tree became the inspiration for the new complex. The argument for saving the tree was prepared as an economic solution, as the wrapping of the building in a 'L' shape around the tree presented more perimeter frontage, resulting in more commercial lease opportunities.

The ancient tree and seating area is now a meeting place, a unique living marker in the central business district – providing shade, green, and softness in an urban location.

Dignity and usefulness was found for the old living tree.

為中國保留一棵300歲的大樹而設計的樓宇在中國福州市中心保留的一棵300多歲的大樹。 (共同設計 LWA,Li Xin)以老樹作為靈感,在中國第一次提倡綠色環保設計的新型商住兩用建築設施。一個解決方案詮釋以老樹作為會議地點的價值是一個不錯的社區形態,但從經濟效應考量,一個L形的底樓佈局,在建築物周圍以樹環繞,呈現更多的周邊空地,從而獲得更多的商機。

The Useless Old Tree by Chuang Tzu (4th century BC)

A wandering carpenter saw upon his travels a gigantic old oak tree standing in a field at the earth-altar. The carpenter said to his apprentice, who was admiring the oak: "This is a useless tree. If you wanted to make a ship, it would soon rot; if you wanted to make tools, they would break. You can't do anything useful with this tree, and that's why it has become so old."

Later that evening, the carpenter went to sleep, and in his dream, the old oak tree appeared to him and said: "Why do you compare me to your cultivated trees that bear fruit? Even before they can ripen their fruit, people attack and violate them. Their branches are broken, their twigs are torn. Their own gifts bring harm to them, and they cannot live out their natural span. That is what happens everywhere, and that is why I have long since tried to become completely useless. You silly mortal! Imagine if I had been useful in any way, would I have reached this size? Furthermore, you and I are both creatures, and how can one creature set himself so high as to judge another creature? You useless mortal man, what do you know about useless trees?"

The carpenter woke up and said to his eager to please apprentice, "Keep your mouth shut! The tree grew here on purpose because anywhere else people would have ill-treated it. If it were not the tree of the earth-altar, it might have been chopped down."