9 Amazing Structures Built Around a Tree

Train station built around a 700-year-old tree (Japan)

Neyagawa’a Kayashima Station, in northeastern Osaka, is one of the most unusual-looking train stations in all of Japan. Despite its elevated platform location, Kayashima has a giant, broccoli-like tree poking out through a rectangular hole in its roof.

The Big Kusu Tree of Kayashima, as the camphor tree is known, is older than most records, but officials estimate that it has been around for at least 700 years. In 1910, when Kayashima was opened, the tree stood right next to it, offering travelers much-needed shelter on both sunny and rainy days. It stayed that way for the next 60 years, but as Japan’s population increased, overcrowding became a problem. Authorities decided that the train station needed to be expanded—plans were approved in 1972, and the camphor was going to be cut down.

Those plans were scrapped, and Kayashima station was built around the camphor tree. By 1980, it was completed, and the tree was converted into a sort of a shrine. It stands surrounded by a fence of sacred plaques and “wears” a sacred Shimenawa rope strung with shime strips, which symbolizes the presence of a deity and wards off its curse.

Library built around a centenarian walnut tree (France)

A centenarian walnut tree forms the axis for this library in the French city of Bourg-la-Reine. The building, designed by Pascale Guédot, surrounds the old tree, which stands in the middle of a reading room.

On the ground floor, extensive glazing allows the interior space to meld with the outdoor area to the rear of the building—this is where the structure winds around the old walnut tree and becomes a courtyard-like reading area. Terraced wood patios and a stone bench invite visitors to stay a while.