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PROJECT: Location:


Awaji Yumebutai (Awajishima, Awaji Island Project) 2 Yumebutai Kusumoto-tarui, Higashiura-cho Tsuna-gun, Hyogo 656-2301 Japan Design: Tadao Ando (Tadao Ando Architects & Associates) Client: Hyogo Prefecture Consultants: Wada Structural Engineer Consultant, Hojo Structure Research Institute: structural; Setsubi Giken Architectural Engineers Associates: mechanical; Ceser Park & Resort / Gauer Design Far East Ltd., Nikken Space Design: interior (hotel); Environmental Site Plannings: landscape; Karasawa Architectural & Acoustic Design: acoustic General contractor: Obayashi - Aoki - Zenidaka - Sato - Kanzaki J.V., Takenaka - Aoki- Shibata J.V., Shimizu - Izumo J.V., Moricho Planning: 04/1993-12/1994 (before earthquake) 10/1995-12/1996 (after earthquake) Construction: 07/1997-12/1999 Opening: 03/2000 History: Awaji Yumebutai is a complex of buildings by architect Tadao Ando. The mixed-use project was built on the remains of a hillside from which the soil had been removed for decades, to cater for a huge landfill development in the Osaka Bay area, including for the Kansai airport. The architect - Tadao Ando - convinced the authorities to purchase the surrounding land (100 hectares) and turn it into a park. The project would restore nature to an area scarred by past expansion activities and would create a new place in the area for people to gather and interact. However, in January 1995 Awaji Island was the epicentre for a massive earthquake that shook the region around Kobe and claimed more than 6,000 lives. This forced the architect the revise completely the construction documents and the timetable for the project. In the words of Tadao Ando: "... to re-conceive "Yumebutai" as both a physical and spiritual rebuilding of the devastated cities - a symbol of rebirth. Yumebutai commemorates death and devastation by celebrating their opposites - life and beauty". This intricate complex of interior and exterior spaces is a place where visitors are surrounded by the richness of nature, and find sensory pleasure in their existence. The project now includes a hotel, both indoor and outdoor gardens, a conference centre, tea ceremony building, restaurants, plazas and a small amphitheatre. Each building has its own distinct geometric shape, lending itself to an easy iconography where steps and water - ponds, cascades, fountains and other water features play a very important role. One important item that did change after the earthquake was the addition of the large square-gridterrace of flower gardens called "100 Step Garden" on a steep inclination situated behind the hotel and decorated with flowers throughout each of the 4 seasons serving as "a symbol to calm the souls of those who lost their lives in the disaster". The garden is a geometric pattern of 100 inclined flower beds, all following the gradient of the terrain and linked by an intricate maze of stairs, always consisting of 7 or 14 steps between landings. This cascading arrangement of planters shows an intriguing combination of rigorous geometric design and enclosed plots with a large variety of plants and flowers displayed all year round. The

garden lies at the highest point of the Yumebutai complex and is linked to the other parts of the project by a 10m wide step-cascade of continuously flowing water, flanked by stairs that follow the same arrangement and incline. With a free-standing elevator you can reach the top of the first large square of flower beds and also a spectacular viewing platform from where you have a 360o outlook of the entire Yumebutai complex. From there you can reach via an intricate play of ramps the second large square and also a unique vantage point at the top of the step-cascade.

Site Plan of the one-hundred-step-garden (document received from Tadao Ando Architects & Associates

Measurements: When designated as the one-hundred-step-garden (Hyakudan-En) the name does not refer to the number of stair-steps but rather the number of garden squares (flower beds) that make up the entire flower garden. Their number is indeed exactly 100. All garden-squares (5m x 5m) are surrounded by steps: 14 steps upward going West and 7 steps upward going North. The difference in height is bridged by the fact that the garden-squares themselves are all sloping down towards the East over a height of 7 steps (1m). This means that each square is 7 steps higher than the square on its East and South, while being 7 steps lower than the squares on its North and West. The large squares (38.4m x 38.4m), consisting of 36 flower beds therefore slope upward toward the North-West corner, following the gradient of the surrounding terrain. The total difference in height between the lowest and highest point of the large squares is 18m (6x1m+6x2m). The difference in height between the landings is always 1m or 2m. As all landings are consistently separated by 7 or 14 steps the rise of each step is 14.3 cm. The going of each step is 33.4cm which makes the distance between landings (6 goings) also exactly 2m. The step-modulus is therefore 14.3+14.3+33.4 = 62cm, which can be considered the ideal ratio for the 95 percentile Japanese stature and related foot-size. The width of the stairs is 1.2m with one simple iron handrail on the side of the flower beds and the gradient of the stairs is a comfortable 23.2o. Where there are 14 steps the size of the square is established by multiplying 15x33.4cm giving a total of 5m, thus establishing the size of the garden-squares (5m x 5m = 25m 2). Each large square consists of 36 small squares surrounded each by 4 staircases (1.2m wide). This gives the total size of the large squares as 38.4m x 38.4m (6x5m+7x1.2m), or 39.7m x 39.7m (=1575m 2) when one includes the surrounding walls. Each complete large square has 882 steps (6x7x14+6x7x7). The incomplete square in the South has 539 steps. There are an extra 35 steps to link the first large square with the other two. This means that the total amount of steps in the large squares is 1456. Additionally of course there are the 119 wide steps which form the water partition going down towards the lower part of the complex (8x14+1x7). If we add these figures together we can see that the entire project counts 1575 steps, while the total amount of flights, including the connecting stairs, is 235. In the typical Tadao Ando style the main building material used for the one-hundred-step-garden is fair-faced concrete. Only the surrounding walls of the large squares are made of large blocks of natural stone, but still in the same grey colour pattern, characteristic of the entire project.

Bibliography: Anon. (2000) Awaji-Yumebutai, Tsuna-gun, Hyogo, Japan; Architects: Tadao Ando Architect & Associates. In: GA Document (62) July 2000 pp. 52-67. Atripaldi, Anna Maria (2001) La piazza dei sogni: complesso Yumebutai, Awaji-Kobe. In: Architettura Cronache e Storia (47)552 October 2001 pp. 596-601. Conley, Ken (s.d.) Gallery: Awaji Yumebutai Part I and II - Tadao Ando. Heneghan, Tom (2000) Orchestral Spaces. In: Awaji Yumebutai, monograph on Tadao Ando's Awaji Yumebutai. Shinkenchiku-sha, May 2000, pp. 106-110. Heneghan, Tom (2000) Asia: regional report (includes Life and soul: Yumebutai spatial theme park, Awaji Island / Tadao Ando). In: World Architecture (89) September 2000 pp. 76-83. Okabe, Noriaki et al. (2001)Yearbook 2000: Japanese architectural scene in 2000: special issue. In: Japan Architect (40) Winter 2001 pp. 90-95. Tadao Ando Architects & Associates (s.d.) AWAJI-YUMEBUTAI (Awaji Island Project). Document received from the Architect's office 21/01/11. 2 pp.

The step-cascade: link between the Yumebutai complex and the garden (photos Karel Bos)

View of the garden towards South-West (photo Karel Bos)

7 steps toward the North; 14 steps toward the West; flower-beds inclined 1m (photo Karel Bos)

Flowerbeds throughout the 4 seasons as a celebration to life and beauty (photo Karel Bos)

Following the incline of the terrain the garden slopes toward the North-West highest point.

Lift to the viewing platform and footbridge to the second level of the garden.

The steps following the cascading water back to the Yumebutai complex (photos Karel Bos)

Karel Bos 09/02/11


L'Architetto che non concepisce una scala come cosa fantastica non un Artista: non un regista dell'Architettura. (Gio Ponti 1957)