Tane Garden House | To Try, To Fail, To Sharpen the Tools, and Try Again

Shearing Back a New Exhibition and Hardback Featuring the Tane Garden House, Via Issue 191, Fresh Cuts

Written by

Sofia Ziman

Photographed by

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Styled by

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Tane Garden House, Vitra Campus, 2023 © Vitra / Atta, Photo: Julien Lanoo.

Upon the foundations of nature and memory lies a reimagination of place and purpose, crystallized in Japanese-born, Paris-based architect Tsuyoshi Tane’s Garden House. After three years in the making, the Garden House sits in Oudolf Garden, at the heart of the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein. Tane is known for his meticulous approach to sustainable conception and design. “Architecture belongs to the place,” he muses regarding the 15 square meter multi-use structure.

Tane’s spaces emphasize longevity, complementary to surrounding landscapes. Opposed to dominating structures dependent on excavated resources, his practice considers local material and communities. “Distance matters as well as the materials,” he shares. “Seeing what is available locally, around us and above ground, as well as looking around us for people and skills to support and maintain the architecture.”

New book, Tane Garden House (Vitra Design Museum, 2024), offers a glimpse into the guiding ethos and the artist’s holistic creative process. The book traces the questions, inspirations and gradual evolution, “by looking at the density and challenges of trials and errors, successes and failures, collections of materials and immaterials, which represent the approach to design the architecture that we call ‘Archaeology of the Future,’ to dig into the memory of the place in order to drive the idea for the future.” The text becomes an exhibition unto itself—elucidating the philosophy and patient purpose realized through regional wood, stone, and vision.

Through sketches, models, material studies, and Tane’s own chronicles, the artist fuses memory and modern innovation with values rooted in intrinsic simplicity. As the book is sent to print and houses accompanying the exhibition, Archaeology of the Future, comes to a close, Tane further reflects on the patience and longevity cultivated in his personal practice with a newfound stillness.

Concept Collage © Atelier Tsuyoshi Tane Architects, Paris. 

How did this dialogue with Vitra and the eventual project come to life?

When Rolf picked me up by car and drove me to the Vitra Campus, he told me about his childhood, about his memories, recounting how he used to come here with his grandmother when it was only a large field. The Vitra Campus came into being over a number of years. He was thinking of bringing nature back in the next phases of the Vitra Campus, guided by the concern of climate change.

In support of this goal, he had already commissioned the Oudolf Garden. Then suddenly, Rolf asked me: ‘Tsuyoshi, would you be interested in designing a garden house that can serve as a symbol of sustainability?’ Vitra’s Campus has been created as a dreamland of architecture and design where the initial brief was to think of the Oudolf Garden to manifest as simple sustainability. We went together through many steps of trials and errors, to achieve this Garden House project. Because of this long dialogue, we could go as far as we could into the next challenge that Vitra is seeking.

You dedicated three full years into the design of the Garden House alone. Now that this project chapter has come to a close, along with the exhibition and book, what has been your process of reflection?

It took three years to design the Garden House. We had many conversations and talks and at the end of the day, it just needed time. We were not only using local materials, but also learning to express the local grammar, patterns, details, and techniques, as if learning to pronounce a local language. The final result is a unique, primitive, and warm form of architecture.

Working for three years for Vitra and with Rolf Fehlbaum made me think very strongly about the influence of architecture on the future and approach for designing architecture. A challenge for humanity and prosperity, dialogue with the craftspeople to put architecture at the center of the table when it can change so many relations, processes, and structures in the construction industry. The role of the architect becomes very important. 

How do you strike a balance between appreciating the final artifact while also questioning what future seasons may reveal?

We never think about the building as a final result. It is a living place. It is very important to design the time in the building, a time that requires [one] to accept to evolve and to welcome future needs. This gives more quality for the work, when starting to use everything around, living life of the building for future society and generations should be appreciated. To provide this respect for us, architecture can continue to carry the beauty of future.

What interests you about gardens?

There is a moment, especially when living in the city, when there is a strong desire in our human daily life—90% of the day in the city is spent inside—to reconnect with nature. Therefore, it is important to design architecture that can coexist with plants and nature. And to see how nature grows, changes, and feels. We are all living on this planet.

Nature has an intelligence that tells us how to live. Our Paris-based atelier is set in a concrete garage building: we experiment to ‘junglify’ it, and fail, and try again... and develop farming activities as well as an architecture work. We are learning by trying and failing. This is the essence of living in the city in the 21st century. 

Recycled Wood Podiums For The Exhibition © Atelier Tsuyoshi Tane Architects, Paris. 
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Flaunt Magazine, Issue 191, Fresh Cuts, Tane Garden House, Vitra, Vitra Design Museum, Tsuyoshi Tane, Art, Architecture, Sofia Ziman