Prolific Japanese studio nendo completed their first public space design that puts a playful and futuristic spin on its unlikely source or inspiration: ancient Japanese tombs. Located at Tenri Station in Japan’s Nara prefecture, the multipurpose public space is a 6,000-square-meter station plaza that includes amenities such as bicycle rentals, cafes, and a play area. The goal of the project, called CoFuFun, aims to encourage revitalization of the area through strengthening community bonds.
The whimsical name CoFuFun combines the term ‘cofun’—the name of sacred tomb mounds that the Tenri region is known for—with the colloquial Japanese expression ‘fufun,’ which means happy, unconscious humming. Inspired by cofun’s grass-covered mounds, nendo designed the plaza with a series of circular white structures made from precast white concrete. The modern cofun also reference Nara’s mountainous geography with some structures depressed and others domed.
Steps cover the prefabricated structures, which are used for a variety of uses including seating, shade, play, and even skating. A cafe and other shops are built inside the domed cofuns. “The cofun are beautifuland unmistakeable, but blend into the spaces of everyday life in the city,” says nendo. “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 visitorsto the plaza will understand it in the same way, too.”
Images by Takumi Ota