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The First Tree Museum

Trees are the lungs of our planet, and in honour of their significant role in maintaining an eco-balance, the Enea Tree Museum in Upper Lake Zurich, Switzerland opened its doors to visitors in June 2010. The 2.5 acre museum has been built on a 14th century monastery and aims to draw attention to the presence, beauty and rarity of the exhibited trees, as well as how time and space are the essence of these ancient trees. Enzo Enea, a renowned Swiss landscape architect and a passionate tree admirer, created the museum in order to exhibit his boundless admiration for trees and give the care and attention to them that is usually given to works of art.

The museum is oval-shaped and divided into a series of atmospheric open-air ‘rooms’, which exhibit the character of each individual tree. Open-air spaces are a typical characteristic of Enzo Enea’s gardens. Open-air constructions serve to create an individualistic space for trees, where visitors can view the tree from every angle and observe it in its unique habitat.

The trees used in the museum are reclaimed and salvaged trees that have been collected over the years. In order to transplant and preserve these trees sophisticated Bonsai shaping techniques were used. The trees have been framed against a sandstone block, which was constructed by Enea and international green architect Chad Oppenheim.

The museum itself contains approximately 50 trees representing more than 25 varieties, as well as trees that are more than 100 years old. The Tree Museum is also surrounded by another 100 trees and plants, and in total there are more than 2,000 exclusive wood species that Enea has collected in the past 17 years. Some of his most impressive collections are the 130-year-old red Japanese maple, a Saucer magnolia between the ages of 75 and 80 years old, and an 80-year-old yew.

The main building on the grounds is the 2,500-square-meter complex of Enea Garden Design – Enea’s main office. The building was designed by Chad Oppenheim and was built using local lumber, green roofs and geothermal exchange. The complex also features a showroom, classroom and workshop and an exhibition of garden furniture, a library, a museum shop, as well as works of art and design. Due to its truly environmentally friendly style, in 2009 Chicago Athaneum awarded the building with the American Architecture Award.

This is only the tip of the worldwide green movement taking place, and hopefully we’ll be seeing many more green artistic concepts like this one in the future!

(Post by Ivelina Dineva)

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