Located in Tokyo’s Marunouchi area, the commercial facility, “KITTE” opened in 2013 in the “JP Tower” building owned by the Japan Post Company. We received a request to “set up a tree of more than 14.5 meters and compose a space that resembled the outdoors” in the middle of the atrium of KITTE. It was a project that we had not experienced. Our main project scope included the design and construction of the overall project. It was our mission to realize the image that the client had drawn. With the success of the first year, we have had the opportunity to work on this recurring project 3 times by the year 2015, and it has become an important event for Murayama.
The project began with the selection of the tree. We consulted the client regarding a good balance of height, trunk thickness, and branch appearance, then select the best tree. Next, the construction method was considered. Since a non-artificial tree was to be used, there wasn’t an option to build the tree at the venue. How do we transport a tree of this size? How do we make it stand on its own? What is the weight? What is the appropriate construction method? Is the load tolerance adequate? Is there temporary closure during our operation? What about safety? What about maintenance during the season? Although it is a limited-time event during the winter season, there were many aspects to be considered and verified including temporary construction, architecture, structure, layout, landscaping and molding.
Since the venue was located near a major train station, people were coming and going from early morning until very late at night. There were many physical and time restrictions due to the fact that the project was being executed within a building. There were many constraints to be considered from a variety of construction angles. First and foremost, we had to consider how to make the project successful while ensuring safety. Internal as well as external staff members worked together to come up with a successful plan.
In construction, safety always comes first. To carry out the task of “setting up huge tree”, explanation of the construction method and safety, on-site process to support working within a limited time, a security plan, and a detailed construction plan was required at every stage of the process. The construction period was about 8 days. During this period, it was necessary to plan carefully for the weight of the tree, scaffolding, temporary closure, and the weight affecting the surrounding floor. The temporary enclosure while under construction was a box the size of the tree. The box was decorated as a present box and its sudden appearance drew the attention of passerby.
The unmistakable accent to the project is the appearance as though real snow had accumulated around the tree. The tree was covered with snow “makeup” to produce this image. It took much time to accomplish this task and our staff worked as they, themselves became covered in snow.。
At the foot of the tree, a snowy mountain was built. The base of the snowy mountain is a stage built for the event. The know-how of the temporary stage team is in full use, and the molding covering the stage is manufactured by those at our own factory, “Futu-Rush Center”.
The line-shaped ornaments custom-made by the staff on site and hung from the top of the atrium reflected the light and gave the impression of falling snow. These decorations were hung carefully by all of the staff on-site. Combining architectural techniques and directing techniques, we were able to realize the image of the project.
The first step of this project was unloading the huge tree and setting it up indoors. When the tree first went up in the atrium, the staff, moved by its appearance, unexpectedly began applauding with joy and sense of accomplishment. It was a feeling that cannot be put into words.
n addition to the successful completion, at every stage from planning to construction, we received praise that our “work was beautiful”. The staff was moved by this, and it further increased the pride we had in our work.
Every year when the project is completed, we see people stopping in front of the tree, surprised by its size, smiling and taking pictures with family and friends. Seeing people moved by our work gives meaning to what we do, and is when we are truly touched.
During “WHITE KITTE”, an emotion stirring, fantastic light and sound performance surrounds the tree, emotionally touching its visitors. On a certain research site, our project was ranked #1 in Christmas Trees within Tokyo in 2015, and we feel that we have been able to construct a symbol of Marunouchi and KITTE, along with the client. While the project calls for safety management and many peripheral considerations which require all of our focused attention, and work continues overnight for multiple nights in a row, the joy upon completion and the great media exposure, makes this one of our pride projects.