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CoFuFun Public Space Japan, Designed by Nendo

Nendo’s first public space brings the fun outdoors, with stepped saucers that reference ancient Japanese tombs.



BY Andrew McDonald

July 14th, 2017


CoFuFun is the first public space designed by nendo, and takes the form of a 6,000 square meter plaza completed with cafés, meeting spaces, play areas, an events space, leisure facilities, and information kiosks. The area is located near the railway station in Tenri, a small city in the Nara prefecture of Japan, and was designed to help revitalize the community for residents and tourists alike.

Eye catching from both the ground and up above, the saucers have been arranged at four different heights, in a move that creates a visual playfulness when seen from the side, and also functions as a means of minimizing noise between the areas. This means the play space for children, the lounge and study space for reading, and the stage that can be used for concerts or public screenings can all exist in harmony with one another while still feeling private to those in the saucer at the time.

As part of the revitalization of the area, Tenri area souvenirs can be purchased at a newly designed shop in space, whose interiors and furniture were also handled by nendo.

The saucers, or ‘Kofun’, were created at a factory using large-scale precast concrete molds, before being pieced together on-site with the help of cranes. This construction method means that large spaces are formed without the use of columns or beams, while the round shapes result in well-balanced structures offering a high degree of stability, as well as an arresting visual component.

The plaza’s name, Cofufun, combines the main design reference with the colloquial Japanese expression, of fufun; a happy, unconscious humming. “The design for the plaza should offer a convivial atmosphere that unconsciously leads visitors to hum, happily, while they’re there” say the nendo design team.


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