HIGHLIGHT 3 New Dimensions in the Benefits of Wood Born from Collaboration

Kurkku Fields, a sustainable farm and park, was created in Kisarazu, Chiba, Japan in the autumn of 2019.
Here we introduce how Sumitomo Forestry was involved in this facility’s efforts to enrich lives and society.

Creating a Place where People can Experience How to Coexist with Nature

Kurkku Fields is a sustainable farm and park comprising approximately 30 hectares of farmland, pastures and poultry farms interspersed with artwork. Through workshops and harvesting activities where participants can eat freshly gathered produce and eggs, Kurkku Fields offers experiences in farming, food and art all in one spot. Sumitomo Forestry was in charge of creating spaces for these experiences that integrated nature. Specifically, we built four facilities – a dining/bakery building, a charcuterie where meat is processed and sold, a chiffon area where chiffon cake is produced and sold, and the Center House, a building with showers and a living room space for guests of Tiny House Village, a collection of trailer houses that serve as accommodation facilities. We participated from the earliest concept-development stages and worked diligently on this new challenge, developing ways to harness the huge open space and discussing what types of experiences should be conveyed.

Wood Conveys the Touch of Life

The touch of life – this is one of the important concepts behind Kurkku Fields. In a city, it is often difficult to feel the existence of “life,” so Kurkku Fields aims to give this sensation through farming, eating and art. To play up on this concept, we utilized plenty of wood and paid close attention to structural details. We tried to create a tactile-oriented space that allows people to directly touch and feel wood, which is a form of nature and life itself. In particular, the dining/bakery building uses wood not only for the interiors but the exterior walls, the roof, the flooring and many other parts. Knowing that wood changes and gains more character over time, our design took into consideration ways to enjoy this change. By using scrap wood from the barn for flooring, we also tried to show our consideration for the environment and our desire to not waste limited resources. In addition, a portion of the roof uses natural slate called ogatsuishi from Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, one of the disaster sites of the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. The building reflects the thoughts and wishes of a wide variety of people who were involved in the project.

Dining/bakery building exterior view (Left)
First floor dining area (Right)

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A New Appeal of Wood, Discovered through Collaborative Work with People from Different Fields

This project was created by a group of artists, architects, government officials, farmers, landscapers, permaculture designers and a variety of other specialists led by musician Takeshi Kobayashi, who served as chief producer.

For Sumitomo Forestry, working with professionals from different fields on the project’s overall design and the building of each structure exposed us to novel methods and thinking that differed from our standard construction practices and provided us with new learning experiences, stimulation and ideas.

These diverse encounters and collaborations offered us a fresh angle and perspective about the appeal and value of our ongoing commitment to wood. While different from our usual timber solutions for buildings, we hope that this added dimension of the benefits of wood will help to elevate interest in wooden buildings.

Living room space of the Center House

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Comment from the Owner and Chief Producer

Broadly speaking, the concept behind Kurkku Fields is sustainability. Creating a space that reflects this concept, which constantly evolved in different ways, was frankly very difficult. However, it was fun to continuously ask ourselves such questions as, “Where are we coming from?”, “Where do we want to go to?” and “Where are we now?”

I worked with Sumitomo Forestry on this project until the very end, closely enough to get to know them all as individuals, and I know they gave it their all. Sustainability requires individual freedom, thought and strength. Even if it is an accumulation of small achievements over time, we must move toward sustainability to protect the interests we have now. While our work with Sumitomo Forestry has concluded for this stage, we will consult them for our next stage. For certain, trees, wood and forests are an indispensable factor in our efforts to coexist with the earth.

Takeshi Kobayashi, musician

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Sustainability Report