Building The Branch: Before & After

When we decided to open an ecological art space, we made a firm decision to design and build as much as possible ourselves. As a result, most materials were salvaged from demolished homes, and all of the work was done by our hands and those of like-minded volunteers. Here is the result!

When we began planning The Branch project here in Osaka, we made a firm decision that we would design and build as much of it as possible ourselves. This was not just to contain our costs (although it did), but because we wanted to begin a transition away from our society’s over-reliance on industry and the capitalist mentality, and instead to engage in the spirit of smallness, regeneration, relationships, sharing, giving new life to old things, and just generally living lightly on the planet.

As a result, most of the materials used in this project were salvaged from old homes that had been torn down, and all of the work was done by our own hands and those of like-minded volunteers who are happy to build and enjoy an active community space together with us.

With that, here’s a look what has transpired here over the past five months, building a Gallery, Community Cafe, Tiny Library, and Pocket Farm

The Gallery

Works in the Gallery Space – cut, transport, oil, and install the wood planks for flooring; tear off wall veneer and repair / re-frame / soil / plaster the walls and existing latticework; paint; design and install USB-powered gallery lighting system; repair holes in rear wall; paint; bathroom wall re-plastering; remove rotting bathroom sink and build new sink fixture

Images above show the process of remodeling what eventually became the main gallery space.

The Community Cafe

Works in the Community Cafe / Library – Wire and install new lighting; removal of wall veneer and repair of mud walls; apply ‘kyoto plaster’ to interior walls; strip, sand and refinish wood support post and beams; build entryway standing bar table; build kitchen table; pot/pan hanging system; kitchen shelving; paint; build library under staircase; build/carve mailbox and signage for exterior

Images above show the process of remodeling the kitchen and community cafe space.

The Library

The tiny library here at The Branch was previously a dark storage closet, tucked under the staircase. Initially, we wanted to turn it into a ‘better’ storage closet. After sitting inside however, we had another idea…

Sitting under the staircase felt somehow cozy — maybe we felt like Harry Potter? So we re-thought our plan mid-construction. What a shame it would be to make another storage closet here! Instead, the diminutive space has been transformed into a one-seat library, which a fan from the United States affectionately dubbed the “Twig Library”. We like that name.

Visitors to The Branch can enjoy sitting with a book and a cup of tea here, and Suhee still gets her material storage space. The seat top is removable, with ample storage underneath. Book donations are also welcome!

The Team

Although this project required a vision and determination from Suhee and Patrick, it really took far more than that. There was something like a collective of people from around the world, who really believed in The Branch taking form. So here’s a cheers to them, our Support Team, Advisory Board, and our Sponsors and Donors

Support Team

Yasutaka Kaneda (Japan)
Coordinator

Youngmi Kim (Japan)
Operations Assistant

Tomo Yamamoto (Japan)
Assistant Residency Coordinator

Howard Wee (Malaysia)
Assistant Residency Coordinator

Advisory Board

Chris Fremantle
Environmental Arts Producer & Researcher
The Robert Gordon University, Scotland

Ikumasa Hayashi
Photographer and Arts Producer
Nagoya, Japan

Nova Jiang
Artist
Los Angeles, USA

Robin Lasser
Artist, Professor of Photography
San Jose State University, USA

Patrice Milillo
Arts Activist, Director at Art is Power
Los Angeles, USA

Isao Suizu
Professor of Design
Aichi University of Art, Japan

Carla Vitantonio
Social Activist, Author, Performance Artist
Italy & Cuba

Sponsors and Donors

Gallery Wall Sponsors
The Nature of Cities
Matthew and Patricia Emanski

Garden Donors
Kosuke Okamura, Nana Aomori, Jared & Monica Looser, Takafumi Inoue, Mary Cheung, Jaye and Janine Lydon, Syanne Cole, Jeongmi Na

Floor Donors
Patrice Milillo, Alicia Bay Laurel, David Billa, LightKim Quach, Heidi M Freni, Lee Yeon hwa, Dorothy Cheung, Mak Hoi Shan Anson, Tamiko Eto, Brian Jenkins, Brandon Lo, Yeji Cheon, Koh Anna, Lee Sang-Dae, EunSun Heo, Jaehee min, Nishiko, Michael and Ellana Gibbert, Lee Hwayoung, Valerie Hom, Larry Korn, Barbara J Harrison, Faye Hester Luong, Carla Vitantonio, Lim Juyoung, Kim Seung Mi, Mario Tapia, Sean Lydon, Ponti Manolides

General Donors
Janelle Carino, Michelle McGinty, Yunhee Cho, Su eon, An Ryuhyeon, Allison Palenske, Heeyoung Park Jeanneau, Kim Irani, Aaron Choate, Bill & Terry Jenkins, Minsoo Lee, Heejung Lee

Construction Assistants
Uni Park, Yukino Hanamoto, Dongjae Kim, Hirofumi Uchihara

Residency Partners
Air Osaka Hostel
Art, Space & Nature at The University of Edinburgh

Hosting Organization
NPO Co.to.hana

In-Kind Support
Chishima Foundation for Creative Osaka


More from The Branch

Enjoy more events and stories from our ecological art space in Osaka: