Client Landscape International
Scope Planning, Landscape Architecture
Size 11 hectares
The new Foreign Studies Campus of Tokyo University serves Japanese and foreign students pursuing degrees in international studies, including languages, history, and all aspects of world culture. The 10.7-hectare (26.4-acre) project site – an abandoned military housing site located on the outskirts of Tokyo - supported a forest of mature cherry, Zelkova, and other trees. Through a careful program of tree preservation and transplanting, the landscape architects reused much of the existing forest, at the same time creating a clear, form-giving landscape that allows for phased expansion, integrates the campus into its urban context and fosters the academic life of the campus. This design approach responds to the client's desire for a flexible, functional landscape offering formal and informal outdoor gathering spaces, and also to their conviction that the trees embody souls that will endure ten times longer than our own. To connect the campus to its urban neighborhood, the landscape architects established a strong diagonal spine from the town's commercial core and transit station located southwest of the campus, through the campus and to a second transit stop situated to the northeast. This pedestrian spine "pulls" the life of downtown into the connected yet distinct environment of the campus itself. In addition, the distinct forms and spaces of the landscape help to foil the high-rise buildings in this emerging suburban town, making the campus a restful place for study and exchange of ideas. The design creates two major outdoor elements and a series of smaller ones. First, the dominant diagonal spine sets up a series of spaces that encourage the university's diverse community to meet and mingle. The Main Entry Plaza is a transitional space that offers seating and bicycle parking adjacent to downtown. Further into the campus is the Central Garden, a circular plaza that accommodates major gatherings and provides access to main classroom and administration buildings, library, cafeteria, and other important destinations, both at ground level and, at the landscape architect's suggestion, along an elevated perimeter walkway. The diagonal spine continues past the sites of future academic buildings to more bicycle parking and student housing in the northeast corner and, off-site, a second transit station. The second major element is a Green Park that connects east-west from the Central Garden to future recreational facilities in the eastern portion of the site. In response to the client's desire for outdoor seating and their openness to abstract landscape expressions, the landscape architects integrated a series of distinct geometric shapes into the park: a raised rectangle in the Trapezium Garden, a raised circle in the Cone Garden, and a three-dimensional square in the Pyramid Garden. Each of these gardens provides seating in relationship to adjacent building entries, and all are connected by pathways that reflect landscape forms and logical pedestrian routes. In addition to the major diagonal and the Green Park, a series of smaller garden spaces relate to classroom buildings for outdoor teaching, reading and study. With this simple, flexible diagram in place, the campus site has been transformed from abandoned military housing to an active campus. The design approach maximized the reuse of existing trees while accommodating an intensive program of campus buildings and infrastructure. Because the entire site required extensive grading for drainage and seismic reasons, approximately 350 of the site’s existing mature trees were balled, burlaped and set aside in a temporary nursery maintained by the client. Of those trees, approximately 60% were mature cherry trees and the remaining 40% were a mixture of mature Metasequoias, Zelkovas, cedars and white oaks. Thanks to the client's careful supervision and the landscape architect's systematic efforts to inventory and tag trees and oversee installation, 100% of the trees survived the construction period to be replanted in masses of the same species – such as flowering cherries at the central plaza - that express the function of different areas and immediately establish a mature landscape.