This indoor park is located in Fukushima’s Soma city, a place still suffering from the prolonged aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, followed by a nuclear crisis.
Our Tokyo office provided pro-bono support to build the project for children and parents to gather and play freely without concern for background radiation levels, as part of the ‘Home-for-All’ initiative led by renowned Japanese architect Toyo Ito and Klein Dytham architecture.
An innovative timber project
The home is characterised by its large 16m diameter timber lattice roof which covers the playground and resembles a straw hat. It was constructed with thin wooden boards intertwined in a three-way weave which – as the hat-like shape suggests – shelters children from the harsh rays of sunlight. The timber slats (20mm thick, 120mm wide) are screwed in place to achieve this geometry.
16m diameter timber lattice roof which covers the playground and resembles a straw hat
60mmlaminated timber columns are adpoted to support the roof structure and resembles trees
Japanese larch was particularly chosen for the slats as it is an indigenous popular and readily available building material in the region and suitably priced. Not known for its strength, but this kind of wood is highly pliable, an essential quality when creating the canopy because the wood had to be bent on site and such flexibility minimises the stresses.
To improve aesthetics, Arup engineers suggested to gradually reduce the number of layers making up the roof as it cantilevers out to the eaves, so as to form a very thin profile. The cross laminated timber columns (60mm-thin veneer) that support the roof have been designed to resemble trees, playfully featuring owls and squirrels sitting on the branches.Photo ©Koichi Torimura️
The project was handed over to the local community in February 2015, providing a much needed social setting for local families to gather and raise each other’s spirit. The children now can go about their youthful endeavours safely and happily. It’s not just a ‘Home-for-All’, but also ‘everyone’s playground’. Today over 20,000 people use the home each year.
World Architecture Festival Award ; World Cultural Building 2015
33rd Fukushima Architecture and Culture Award ; Grand prize