Tenri Station Plaza CoFuFun
CoFuFun enriches the formerly inhospitable train station area of Tenri with a wide range of new uses such as playground, library and street café. The danger of missing the train is likely to have increased since it opened in 2017. Tenri is a city located in Nara Prefecture, Japan. The city has an estimate population of 67,000 and about 30,000 households. Before starting this project, the space in front of the train station was a place people just passed by on their way to or from work in nearby Osaka. The community decided that it was time for a change, and held a design competition to enliven the site. Nendo won.
Tenri’s urban boundaries include a number of ancient Japanese tombs, known as “cofun”. The cofun are beautiful and unmistakeable, but blend into the spaces of everyday life in the city. The plaza’s landscape, richly punctuated by several of these cofun, is a representation of the area’s characteristic geography: the Nara Basin, surrounded by mountains on all sides. The plan for the 6,000 square meter area includes bicycle rentals, a cafe and other shops, an information kiosk, a play area, outdoor stages, and meeting areas. The project goal was to encourage local community revitalisation by providing a space for events, tourist information tomband leisure facilities for local residents. The construction technique used to create the plaza’s round cofun structures consisted of fitting together pieces of a precast concrete mould resembling a huge pizza. Because precast concrete moulds are formed at the factory and then assembled onsite, the resulting structures are precise and the same mould can be used multiple times, ensuring excellent cost-performance. The pre-formed parts are pieced together like building blocks using the same massive cranes used to build bridges. Large spaces can 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.
Tenri Station Square Kofufun ８０３ Kawaharajocho Tenri, Nara Prefecture 632-0016 Japan
Takahisa Araki, Toru Shiomi, mindo
The cofun’s different levels serve a variety of purposes: they’re stairs, but also benches for sitting, fences to enclose playing children, the cafe and stage roofs, shelves for displaying products and the nighttime lighting effect, which floods the plaza with light. This variety creates an environment that encourages visitors to explore and spend time in different spaces within the plaza, rather than limiting their movement to one place. It’s an “ambiguous” space that’s entirely a cafe, a playground and a massive piece of furniture, all at once:
- A play space for children
- a lounge and study space for reading books
- a stage that can be used for concerts or public screenings
- Tenri souvenirs shop
The plaza’s name, CoFuFun, combines the main design motif, the cofun, with colloquial Japanese expressions. “Fufun” refers to happy, unconscious humming: the design for the plaza should offer a convivial atmosphere that unconsciously leads visitors to hum, happily, while they’re there. The alphabet spelling, “CoFuFun”, also brings in the “co-” of “cooperation” and “community”, as well as – of course – “fun” itself. The result is a name whose Japanese and alphabet spellings mean similar things, so that foreign visitors to the plaza will understand it in the same way, too.