Oboeru – click any image for full size
A fog horn plaintively calls in the early morning light, the Sun slowly burning through the dawn haze as it rises over the eastern horizon. Cicada song mixes with that of birds greeting the dawn and the stridulation of crickets, while in the background the dull rumble of waves breaking on a shoreline resonates through the air.
These are the sounds that greet visitors to Oboeru (“Remember” or “learn” in Japanese), a Homestead region designed by Manis Lane and Axiom (Axiomatic Clarity). This is a place that is hauntingly romantic in its near-desolated nature; a low-slung archipelago, the main island of which has been clawed by long fingers of water, its outliers of varying sizes separated from it by channels which can be surprisingly deep.
This is a place which seems to brood under the early morning half-light; the deep mewling of the foghorn seeming to cloak the islands in an air of sadness. And yet this feeling of loneliness combines with the rugged setting with its patches of scrub grass, scatterings of copses of tall Scots pine and gatherings of shrubs and bushes, to present a place of mystery tinged with that hint of romance.
A single table of rock rises from the centre of the region, giving shape to the north-south “spine” of the main island. The single-storey building crowning this plateau calls to visitors as they arrive at the landing point, sitting on a knuckle of land to the north. Reaching the building takes a little effort – the plateau is pretty much sheer-sided, but a way up onto it can be found on the southern side
The building has the look and feel of a clubhouse; outside the front of the place is room to enjoy music and perhaps dance, while the rooms inside offer plenty of space to set on large sofas. Each room has its own bric-a-brac to set a cosily untidy setting for people to relax within; music also a theme indoors as well as outside.
There are a couple of other structures to be found in the region. To the west, and sited to offer a clear view of sunsets over the ocean, stands a tall tower of slowly rusting metal, creepers hanging from its frame as if a giant wave has at some point draped seaweed over it. Metal stairs climb two sides of the tower, offering a way up to its rusted platform, where an old sofa awaits, facing the sea under a canopy of circling gulls.
The second structure lies to the north-east, on one of the larger outlining islands. This is the ruins of a church or chapel, windows now without glass, bushes reclaiming the space inside its walls as much as the space around it. Yet it is far from forlorn, and the stairs climbing to the flat roof offer another route up to a place where one can sit and remember or reflect…
There are numerous places to sit scattered over the landscape – from rooftop to tower to chairs amidst flowers. Board walks strike out over water, but sometimes with no direct connection to the land; but be warned, some of the channels the sit within are quite deep, as I’ve noted, so wading out to a board walk might hold a surprise.
Oboeru is an atypical region in its styling and approach. There is – as I’ve noted – something hauntingly beautiful about the entire region – the design, the windlight, the aural sound scape. Not a region to be missed.
- Oboeru (Landscape Dialog, rated: Moderate)
With thanks to Miro Colas for the pointer to Oboeru