Sky Trees, the fourth major project by Koichi Takada for the Crown Group, is inspired by the amazing and massive living giants, California Redwoods, some of the oldest and tallest trees in the world.
After a time living in New York, which he found to be surprisingly dehumanising and filled with unrelenting, hard-faced, high-rises, he was inspired to find ways to make buildings for more human experiences – “more than just a box”.
“I had been dreaming of living in New York”, Takada is quoted as saying. “But when I got there, it was just too much. I needed to look for something else that would let me breathe,” he said.
So when he set out to design Sky Trees, set in the old warehouse district of Los Angeles, his ambition was to make the 70 storey tower the healthiest place to live in downtown LA.
“We want to humanise tall buildings, to celebrate the pedestrian activities and consider how people experience it. We want our tall building designs to be more engaging to the public to contribute to the community by activating and creating a connection with the neighbourhood.”
With multiple “trunks “like tall trees growing”, Takada incorporated a “breathing green wall” designed to improve the city’s air quality and introducing a unique landscaping feature to the downtown streetscape.
An undulating timber canopy references the famous Marilyn Monroe “flying skirt” moment.
The podium of the tower is eye-catching, designed with a strong consideration of human-scale, pedestrian and retail activity and how people experience it.
The new building also brings some familiar Australian architectural features to the city, such as cross ventilation, access to daylight, natural materiality and much timber inside and out. Sustainable performance glass is a feature, especially on the west-facing facades.
While nature and the built environment might seem to be the opposite, they can co-exist, Takada believes. “We can incorporate nature. We can connect with nature,” he says.
“Even Gaudi said ‘a tree is the teacher’.”