Snapshot: Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, founder of Kengo Kuma and Associates, has been masterfully crafting structures from Tokyo to Paris for three decades strong. Continuously inspired by nature, Kuma is best known for creating organic forms, harmonious interior schematics and seamlessly implementing natural materials. Following suit, Kuma’s newly designed Towada City Plaza (“Michi-no-Hiroba,” meaning, plaza for the street.) in Aomori, Japan is no different.
Intended as a social space for the local community to gather, the angular shape of the wooden building injects repeated roofs that blend in with the neighboring townscape of small houses.
The building is chock-full of multiple activity areas, such as a cooking studio and a tatami room. Perhaps, the most engaging space is the sculptural children’s playroom, an interactive space where wooden floors undulate upward, like rolling hills, like moving waves. For the children, running around has never been so fun! A place created just for them, where tiny steps that fit perfectly to their feet allow them to truly interact with the architecture.
Huge glass panels covered by wainscot planks outfit the facade of the small buildings, a design element that continues on the ceilings of the common areas and also function as a divide of interior spaces.
Ultimately, Kuma’s connectedness with nature and community is boldly showcased in the creation of Aomori’s plaza. Shaped to blend with the neighborhood and crafted using natural elements, this space will surely serve its purpose as a happy spot for the community to gather.
Photography by Kenta Hasegawa Photography