© Makoto Yoshida

Completed in 2004 by Japanese Architect Taira Nishizawa, the Tomochi Forestry Hall located in the town of Tomochi uses local cedar extensively to symbolize the area’s history of forestry. Used principally as a gymnasium, the project is a simple glazed rectangular two-story building situated on a leveled platform within a mountainous landscape. It was completed as part of the Kumamoto Artpolis program initiated in 1988 by the then governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, Morihiro Hosokawa, to facilitate collaborations between emerging architects and local people with a significant number of exemplary projects for the Kumamoto region.

Tomochi Forestry Hall Technical Information

I’m always thinking about the natural environment. That is the big rival for architects. There are so many different varieties or types of environment in the natural world, but in comparison, within architecture there isn’t sufficient variety. We should create different types of space in our buildings.

– Taira Nishizawa1

Tomochi Forestry Hall Photographs

© DimDesign

Tomochi Forestry Hall / Taira Nishizawa

© Makoto Yoshida


© DimDesign


© DimDesign


© DimDesign

Text by the engineers

Located in the green and hilly Kumamoto Prefecture, this hall uses local cedar extensively and symbolizes the area’s history of forestry.

The two-story building resembles an irregular chrysalis covered with glass. The structure is a combination of galvanized steel and laminated cedar members arrayed into a diagonal lattice like an inverted basket. When inside the timber members overhead fuse together to define the space and when looking outside frames views to mountains beyond. The unique structure helped architect Taira Nishizawa win the AR Award for Emerging Architecture in 2005.

In planning the structural design, Arup aimed to ‘make a complex configuration simple and rational.’ Steel and timber members were used in grids intersecting at 45° to form a hybrid structure.

The roof is constructed with steel beams and laminated timber members serving as trusses. The intersecting members form a lattice wall, efficiently distributing forces and reducing member cross-sections’ required size.

Steel was used instead of concrete for the foundations, as the superstructure is relatively light. Steel floor beams are directly connected to steel tubular piles to form the foundation structure.  As steel can easily be reused, this is environmentally friendly and benefits cost and construction time.

Tomochi Forestry Hall Gallery and Plans
Tomochi Forestry Hall / Taira Nishizawa

Floor Plan and Section | © Taira Nishizawa

Tomochi Forestry Hall Image Gallery
About Taira Nishizawa

Taira Nishizawa is a Japanese architect born in 1964 and based in Tokyo. He is the elder brother of Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA). The work of Taira Nishizawa embodies his empirical vision and his rigorous search for materials and proportions. Nishizawa studied at Tokyo Tech within the laboratory of Kazunari Sakamoto, establishing Taira Nishizawa Architects in 1993. Since opening his Tokyo studio, Taira Nishizawa has established himself as a leading figure among his generation of Japanese architects.

Nishizawa’s work, which ranges from small houses to large sports facilities and makes particular use of innovative timber structures, has attracted numerous awards, including the prestigious Japan Institute of Architects Young Architect of the Year Award in 2005 and the Architectural Review Emerging Architecture Award. A practitioner, academic, and critic, Nishizawa teaches at several universities in Tokyo and has lectured and exhibited internationally. His work has been the subject of two monographs: Taira Nishizawa 1994-2004 and Taira Nishizawa: Wooden Works 2004-2010.