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August 20, 2009 @ 1:39 pm
Japan’s Hanging Gardens

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hanginggardensFukuoka City, Japan has experienced impressive growth over the years but failed to conserve green space in its city center. According to various articles I have read, the ACROS Fukuoka building was to intrude on the last remaining strip of greenery in the city center. Fortunately for Fukuoka’s residents, the developers hired architects Emilio Ambasz & Associates to design a symphony hall, office and retail complex that actually added green space to the city. Built in the 1990’s, the ACROS (“Asian Crossroads Over the Sea” – Fukuoka lies across the water from South Korea) was and still is a very innovative structure. Perhaps taking a cue from one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (rendered by artist Mario Larrinaga at right), the park facing side of the building is an enormous terraced garden/green roof with thousands of plants and walking paths to enjoy them. Furthering this design aesthetic are reflecting pools connected by upwardly spraying water jets that create a ladder-like climbing waterfall and serve the functional purpose of dimming the ambient noise of the city.

The staircases and seating areas are perched among the greenery and the higher you climb the better the views. This sky park contains 100,000 ft2 spread across 15 stepped one-story terraces. At the apex, you can enjoy 360 degree views of the city, harbor, mountains and river. THe gray wedge at the foot of the building has many purposes; it’s a dramatic entrance, provides ventilation exhaust for the underground floors and serves as an elevated stage that turns the terraces into a massive outdoor ampitheater. At the same time, this recreational area provides a refuge for birds and insects and allows people to escape the endless, bustling streets of the city to “smell the roses.” More structures like this in our densely populated cities around the world would be beneficial to everyone. The energy savings from the insulating properties of green roofs/”hanging gardens” and capturing of rainwater runoff are particularly beneficial in hot and humid climates like that of southern Japan.

fukuoka1

greenroof-bookFor 40 inspirational case studies and beautiful photos of large-scale green roof projects around the world, check out this book: Green Roofs: Ecological Design And Construction. It would look great on your coffee table and as you can see at left, the ACROS building is featured on the cover

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