Generally, landscape design is about controlling natural environments. Landscape architecture often works with the environment, but more often than not the form serves to tame the natural as much as it promotes it.
One landscape architecture project that is putting an emphasis more on the landscape and less on the design is the ‘Tokachi Millenium Forest’ located on the northern island of Hokkaido in Japan. The project is the brainchild of a collaborative team made up of London landscape architecture practice Dan Pearson Studio and Japanese landscape designer Fumiaki Takano.
The development is more than simply a pretty garden space. The 240-hectare master plan is a prime example of the power of landscape architecture in taking back and promoting natural environments. The development not only offers to offset the carbon footprint created by the nearby newspaper business – also owned by the client – but through development stages, it has fostered lost natural habitats of the region.
In terms of environmental regeneration, the forest areas have been replanted with magnolia, oak and white birch trees. In the meadows, abundant bamboo has been purposely cut back in order to encourage the original undergrowth to flourish, with the inclusion of mass plantings of perennials. Raised planters also feature ornamental plants.
A wooden plank pathway leads through the varied local wildlife, which ranges from wild and unrestrained to stylised and controlled. The curving pathway gives a sense of organic flow, which is only maximised by what is perhaps the key feature: the undulating grass hills.
Visitors will be educated about the gardens and encouraged to participate in the maintenance and further development of the land. This creates, in the truest sense, a socially and environmentally sustainable environment.
Currently near completion, the gardens will soon serve as a community hub for residents of the area, as well as any tourists it may attract.
All images courtesy of dan pearson studio