Cofufun Square at Nara´s prefecture -Japan- is the first urban intervention from Nendo. A 7,700 square meter plan that gets to melt the historical cofun with nowadays daily life.
Nendo is a well-known studio from Japan, a studio that wants to highlight the small flashes of our daily life. For those, there is no clearer way than describing them like:”!”. According to the founder – Oki Sato- sometimes we don’t recognise or forget those moments, and “that’s why we want to reconstruct it and make it something easier to understand”.
This station’s plaza is located in Tenri, a city in the southwest region of Japan. Tenri’s urban boundaries include different ancient Japanese tombs, known as cofun. The cofun are burial mounds where emperors and empresses where buried fifteen centuries ago.
A small change in that name and cofun becomes Plaza Cofufun, where “Fufun” refers to a happy and unconscious humming.
Nendo looked at these monolithic ancient burials, to create the circular concrete structures making up the square.
From overhead, this might look like giant keyholes or circles, that are inspired by the geography of the area. Some of this disc-shaped structures are domed, while others depress into amphitheatres. “We tried not to do it as architecture – more as a piece of furniture,” Sato said in an interview. “It’s like a huge bench in a way. It’s made of stairs and people can sit around wherever they want drinking coffee.”
The construction technique used to create the round structures consisted of precast concrete moulds, that they describe as “a huge pizza”. Precast concrete moulds are formed at the factory and then assembled onsite, resulting in structures that are precise and where the same mould can be used multiple times.
With the same cranes used to build bridges, they pieced together the pre-formed parts like building blocks. This system allows for large spaces to be formed without the use of columns or beams, and because of the round shape, the well-balanced structures offer stability against forces applied from any direction. Inside those huge structures, a cafe, an information kiosk, a bike rental service and different shops can be found.
Photographies by Takumi Ota