When we think about shopping malls, the typical image that comes to mind is a bland series of interconnected boxes with the food court probably being the most exciting part. Well Namba Parks, a massive retail and office compund in Osaka, Japan, totally blasts away the boring stereotype of what a mall is supposed to look like. Built in the footprint of the old Osaka baseball stadium, the awesome development, which was completed in 2003 by the Jerde Partnership, has an eight level rooftop garden that spans several city blocks and features tree groves, rock clusters, cliffs and canyons, lawns, streams, waterfalls, ponds and even space to grow veggies!
Namba Parks was conceived when Osaka Stadium closed down, presenting a great redevelopment opportunity for a new commercial district right next to the Namba Train Station, which is just one stop away from Kansai Airport. Since it’s one of the first places that visitors to the city might see, owner Nankai Electric Railway asked the Jerde Partnership to envision the new development as a gateway that would redefine Osaka’s identity. Jerde designed Namba Parks as a huge green space and an oasis amidst Osaka‘s dense urban streets.
The entire development includes a 30-story office tower and adjacent mall, but what really makes Namba Parks stand out is its rooftop park that gradually ascends eight levels and gives passers-through the feeling that they are actually standing high on a mountaintop in nature when they’re actually right in the middle of the city. Right below the park, a gradiated “canyon” carves a path through the mall, as they stroll past shops, entertainment spots and dining venues. Different flavors of restaurants (Japanese, Korean, Italian, etc.) can be found on the 6th floor, and shops are located on the 2nd through 5th floors. There are also terraces located both on the rooftop and amidst the canyons, an amphitheater for live shows, and space for small personal vegetable gardens and wagon shops.